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Microsoft makes historic €4B multi-pronged investment in France to fuel AI and cloud growth

Microsoft makes historic €4B multi-pronged investment in France to fuel AI and cloud growth
Image credit: DepositPhotos/1000Words

Microsoft announced its biggest investment in France to date during the Choose France summit today on May 13, 2024. This €4 billion multi-pronged initiative aims to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies, bolster digital skills, and empower French startups.

Back in February, we also reported about Microsoft and OpenAI which backed a $500M funding round of this AI-powered humanoid robot.

Building a foundation for the future

The centrepiece of the investment involves expanding Microsoft’s cloud and AI infrastructure in France. This includes establishing a new data centre campus in the Grand Est region, situated in Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération. Existing data centres in Paris and Marseille will also be expanded. 

This enhanced infrastructure will provide cutting-edge computational power specifically designed for AI applications. Additionally, Microsoft will deploy 25,000 of the most advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) in the country by the end of 2025. These powerful processors are crucial for running complex AI algorithms.

Focus on environmental sustainability

Microsoft acknowledges the environmental impact of data centres and has pledged to operate its French facilities according to industry-leading sustainability practices. The company has secured its first renewable energy contracts in France and aims to have 100 MW of new renewable energy projects online by the end of 2024. This aligns with Microsoft’s broader goal of achieving 100% renewable energy use for its global operations by 2025.

Equipping the French workforce with AI skills

Recognizing the importance of a skilled workforce, Microsoft is committed to training 1 million French people in AI by 2027. This ambitious plan encompasses job seekers, students, small and medium businesses (SMBs), and professionals. The training will range from building basic AI fluency to developing advanced technical skills and promoting responsible AI practices.

Partnerships for education and training

Microsoft is collaborating with various stakeholders to deliver its AI skilling initiatives. These include government institutions, training providers, non-profit organisations, universities, and higher-education establishments. New training programs will be launched, focusing on areas like:

  • Building foundational knowledge of AI and generative AI capabilities
  • Developing technical skills for working with AI
  • Supporting businesses in adopting AI solutions
  • Promoting ethical and responsible AI development

Supporting the French startup ecosystem

French startups stand to benefit significantly from Microsoft’s investment. The company plans to engage with over 2,500 startups by 2027 through a dedicated program called Microsoft GenAI Studio. This initiative will provide startups with access to AI expertise, cloud credits, support activities, and opportunities to collaborate with customers and partners.

GenAI studio: A launchpad for innovation

A key component of GenAI Studio is a tailored program offered twice a year at STATION F, a renowned startup campus in Paris. This four-month program will equip select French startups with the technical knowledge and resources needed to accelerate their AI adoption. Additionally, Microsoft GenAI Studio will host nationwide tours and workshops across France, fostering connections with regional players and supporting the development of innovative AI applications.

What do we think about this update

This €4 billion investment shows Microsoft’s enduring commitment to France, a market it has served since 1983. The initiative aligns with the French government’s National Strategy for AI and positions France as a leader in the development and use of this transformative technology. 

By fostering a skilled workforce, robust infrastructure, and a vibrant startup ecosystem, Microsoft’s investment has the potential to propel France’s digital transformation and economic growth well into the future.

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