Quality of life, cultural provision, economic acumen, warmth of the welcome... When questioned about their first impressions after their arrival in Nantes, international talents shower praise on their adoptive city.
Be they researchers, entrepreneurs, managers of international clusters, they all have something in common: they are all international "talents" who have come to Nantes Saint-Nazaire for their research work or jobs. For the 2015 Rencontres internationales evening, organised by the Nantes Saint-Nazaire Development Agency and the World Trade Center, as part of the Folle Journée initiative, international talents from around the region explained what it was that attracted them here.
Thierry Ripoche arrived in Nantes in 2009 to set up a subsidiary of Scottish company Natural Power. What he remembers above all else is the "faultless support" provided by the development agency Nantes Métropole Developpement when he was establishing his company. "They even found a place in a local high school for my daughter." Back in 2009 and looking for a town on the Atlantic Coast, he anticipated the meteoric rise in marine renewable energies and offshore wind power, now a high-growth sector in Nantes Saint-Nazaire.
Those attending the evening event also pointed to the quality of life in the region, a major factor in pulling in new talent from outside. "Nantes has an enormous capacity to attract people from afar: a cultural provision worthy of any major city and internationally renowned thanks to events such as the Folle Journée classical music festival and attractions such as the Machines de l'île. The city's "green" credentials, particularly the increasing number of dedicated cycle paths, are crucial for a company like ours at the cutting edge of the Marine Renewable Energy sector", underlines the company's CEO. "At least half of our engineers in Strasbourg dream of joining us over here in Nantes".
"Interdisciplinarity, research project excellence, the fundamental and applied research mix...", it's often the excellence of research laboratories that persuades researchers to come to Nantes. Having come to Nantes 10 years ago, Chris Ewels, a researcher at the Nantes Institute of Materials (IMN), which brings together 200 researchers of all nationalities, enthuses about having been able to organise "several international conferences here with the support of the local authority". As far as this researcher is concerned, "Nantes represents a charming alternative to Paris with a good economic environment".
The quintessential European, Sophie Labrosse works for the Biopeople biotech cluster, in Copenhagen. A native of the Netherlands and now based in Denmark, Sophie lived in Nantes some ten years ago. She still has links with the city and continues to respond to European calls for bids in partnership with Atlanpole Biothérapies, the healthcare-focused biotech cluster. "There aren't many really big companies in Nantes. What the city does provide, however, are genuine opportunities to set up and develop innovative projects."
This second Rencontres internationales event, organised in partnership with the World Trade Center, brought together 200 people covering 26 different nationalities. "We want to improve the quality of the welcome given to international talent", concluded Karine Daniel, Vice-President of Nantes Métropole, responsible for international relations, higher education and research. One of the objectives Johanna Rolland has set herself for her time in office as President of Nantes Métropole, and to which each international talent will actively contribute.