Former socialist minister who pushed ‘Silicon Sentier’ is now funding entrepreneurs

When Fleur Pellerin set up the venture capital firm Korelya last year, the first contact the former French Socialist minister had with the government was a letter from the revenue outlining the taxes her business would pay. “It’s not a very friendly way to start,” laughs 43-year-old Ms Pellerin, who as a government minister from 2012 to 2016 spearheaded a push to make Paris a “start-up republic”. She says: “The administration still could do better to make the relations with entrepreneurs a bit smoother.”

We are in Korelya’s brightly coloured offices in Paris, in an area becoming known as Silicon Sentier as start-ups and investors move in. This is due in no small part to Ms Pellerin’s efforts to nurture French tech during her two years as minister for small and medium-sized enterprises, innovation and the digital economy. Now her career has changed direction. Last year she raised €100m from Naver, the South Korean internet services company, to invest in French and European start-ups working in “deep tech” — artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning.

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