France and the United Arab Emirates have concluded a “strategic partnership” in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), announced Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire to Agence France-Presse, visiting the wealthy Gulf State, Tuesday May 21. The agreement, signed with the director of the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, Khaldoun Al Moubarak, opens “a new era of economic cooperation” between the two countries in this crucial technological sector, which is booming in particular in the United States and China. -he continued.

For the minister, “France has chosen to be the leading country in Europe in AI. And for that, we need partners,” he said, on the eve of the start of the VivaTech show (May 22-25) in Paris, the largest European event on new technologies. “Four new fields of cooperation will be opened and developed in the coming months,” he explained, citing skills and research development, investments in data centers, semiconductor industry and applications of AI.

The rich oil country, which was the first in the world to have an AI minister in 2017, aims to become one of the world leaders in this field by 2031. In April, the American giant Microsoft announced a $1.5 billion investment in G42, an AI company controlled by Tahnoon bin Zayed, national security adviser and brother of the Emirati president.

Franco-Emirati relations have developed considerably in recent years, particularly on the defense aspect. A new sign of the deepening of these relations, Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday that he had opened up to the Emirates “the possibility of investing in the French civil nuclear industry”. “It is a sign of great trust between the two countries,” he said.

“A moment of strategic awakening”, according to Emmanuel Macron

During the day of Tuesday, a new French artificial intelligence start-up called H was launched and raised 202.7 million euros from large investors including Bernard Arnault, Xavier Niel (individual shareholder of Le Monde) or Amazon, announced Bpifrance, which also finances it. Several former employees of Google DeepMind, the branch of the American giant specializing in AI, are among the founders of H, located in Paris.

“The team of 25 artificial intelligence engineers and researchers’ mission is to introduce the power of generative AI into businesses around the world through a new generation of multimodal models specialized on action,” described Bpifrance.

On bucks! » Earlier, he participated in a videoconference at the international summit on AI being held in Seoul, a summit of which France will organize the 2025 edition.

On Tuesday, the Head of State also spoke on the position of France and Europe in the sector, in front of several AI players at the Elysée. “Basically, the question posed to France, to Europe, is: are we deciding on the investments, the support policy that will allow us to fully return to international competition? “, he asked. “This is a moment of strategic awakening that we are experiencing, which requires profound choices in terms of research, training and investment,” he also declared.

From 40,000 to 100,000 people trained in AI per year, as a goal

The French president also made several announcements including the investment of an additional 400 million euros in large training centers on artificial intelligence. The objective is to go from 40,000 people trained per year to 100,000, he explained. The “battle” for AI must be fought around “five major areas: talent, infrastructure, uses, investment and governance,” declared the Head of State.

Emmanuel Macron also unveiled the launch before the end of the year of a new investment fund, subscribed to a quarter by the State, in order to support the least well financed and most technologically linked sectors. AI, electronic chips or even the cloud. The country will also host a new artificial intelligence evaluation center, which will aim to become one of the largest centers in the world, added Mr. Macron.

To facilitate the adoption of this new technology by the French, the president also entrusted a mission of “acculturation of citizens” to the National Digital Council, which will have a budget of 10 million euros to organize debates, cafes around artificial intelligence across France.

Faced with American titans like Google, Microsoft and OpenAI (which created ChatGPT) and China, France aims to become an AI stronghold in Europe. Its main nugget is Mistral AI, European leader in the sector. In mid-March, a specialized committee estimated that France needed to invest 5 billion euros per year over five years in AI if it wanted to be on par with the United States and China.

Furthermore, Microsoft announced on May 12 that it would invest 4 billion euros in the development of data centers in France to strengthen its infrastructure in artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud.