France announces $4.3 billion plan to support startups
France’s Ministry of State for Digital Affairs Cédric O and public investment bank Bpifrance announced a comprehensive support plan for startups this morning. Some French startups are going to face revenue issues as well as funding issues in the coming months.
The French government wants to temporarily bridge that gap with refinancing and liquidity measures — overall it represents $4.3 billion (€4 billion).
“Startups represent a growing part the economy — especially when it comes to jobs,” Cédric O said in a statement. “They are also working on innovative products and services that have been particularly useful during the lockdown, such as telemedicine appointments, remote work solutions or deliveries.”
France has already announced a widespread economic support plan. French companies that are facing revenue issues can skip tax payments as well as rent and utility bills. The French government is mobilizing $320 billion (€300 billion) in liquidity support, which should make it much easier to get a loan as the government is backing loans.
More importantly, if your company has to stop its operations, France has a short-time working scheme to avoid layoffs. Employees receive 84% to 100% of their salary — the government will reimburse companies.
And yet, startups are always on the verge of bankruptcy. That’s why the French government is going one step further with a startup-focused support plan with additional measures.
First, startups that were in the process of raising a new funding round will be able to raise a bridge round through Bpifrance’s PIA (Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir). Some VC firms might retract terms sheets, others might slow down their investment pace. Bpifrance is putting $86.7 million (€80 million) on the table. Private investors will co-invest as much as $86.7 million (€80 million) as well.
Second, the government is detailing liquidity support measures for startups. Just like other companies, they can borrow money as part of the $320 billion (€300 billion) liquidity scheme. For startups, they can borrow as much as two years of payroll for employees based in France or 25% of annual revenue — whichever is higher. This should represent $2.2 billion (€2 billion).
Third, startups can get tax returns more quickly, and in particular VAT returns and tax returns on research and development investments (crédit d’impôt recherche). This represents a liquidity injection of $1.6 billion (€1.5 billion).
Fourth, Bpifrance is speeding up public support payments. It is going to transfer $270 million (€250 million) ahead of schedule.