Hyperscalers fuel France’s AI ambitions

French President Emmanuel Macron looks genuinely pleased to meet Microsoft vice chairman Brad Smith at the Choose France summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron looks genuinely pleased to meet Microsoft vice chairman Brad Smith at the Choose France summit.

  • France wants to be a major AI hub in Europe
  • Its cause is being helped by some of the biggest cloud players
  • Both Microsoft and AWS have announced investments worth billions of euros to support AI demand

France’s ambition to become a major hub of European AI activity has been helped today by news of major investments in cloud infrastructure, technology and skills by two of the biggest datacentre firms in the world, Microsoft and Amazon.  

The investment announcements coincided with the Choose France summit, where major international firms from multiple industrial sectors get to rub shoulders with French President Emmanuel Macron as they announce plans to pump billions of euros into the French economy. 

Microsoft says it will invest €4bn to “expand its next-generation cloud and AI infrastructure in France” and deploy up to 25,000 of the “most advanced” GPUs (graphics processing units) in the country by the end of 2025. The tech giant will expand its datacentre footprint across existing sites around Paris and Marseille and invest in a new datacentre campus in the Grand Est Region in Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération in the north-east of the country. 

These investments ”will help to meet the growing demand for efficient, scalable and sustainable AI-specific compute power and the needs of private and public organisations, of all sizes, waiting to take advantage of the latest cloud and AI breakthroughs,” noted Microsoft

It is also set to offer training to 1 million people “to help the country embrace the new AI era, with a specific focus on job seekers, students, SMBs and professional audiences. Microsoft and its partners – government institutions, training services partners, non-profit organisations, universities and higher-education organisations – will launch new training programmes focused on building AI fluency for everyone, developing AI technical skills, supporting AI business transformation, and promoting safe and responsible AI development,” the company added. 

Microsoft has also announced new initiatives to support French startups and to embrace “France’s ambitions to develop leading and high-growth AI businesses… Microsoft will set the pace in accelerating AI startups, aiming to engage over 2,500 startups by 2027 through its new flagship programme: Microsoft GenAI Studio. This initiative is designed with a comprehensive package of AI expertise, cloud credits, and support activities, including collaboration with customers and partners,” the tech giant noted. 

In addition, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has pledged investments of €1.2bn in additional cloud infrastructure in the Paris area “to support France’s flourishing generative AI opportunity,” and logistics infrastructure in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to “increase delivery speeds and improve sustainable deliveries for customers.”  

“This new investment by Amazon in France of more than €1.2bn will support the creation of over 3,000 additional permanent jobs in the country,” boasted Russ Grandinetti, senior VP of international stores at Amazon. “It is further evidence of our commitment to offer fast and reliable deliveries to customers, and to enable organisations in France to continue to build and modernise their business using the AWS cloud and the range of generative artificial intelligence services they can access and build there,” he added. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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