Emmanuel Macron, France's president, speaks on stage at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, speaks on stage at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Also, a lot of money raised by start-ups in France has come from corporates. Around $1.1 billion of capital raised in 2016 by French start-ups involved corporates, more than the figure in Germany and the U.K., according to non-profit technology firm Sirris. While it shows that large firms are trying to work with start-ups, it can also be a hindrance.

“Too many French startups focus on France-first, versus becoming global companies. That’s changing, but not fast enough,” Hussein Kanji, partner at London-based VC firm Hoxton Ventures, told CNBC by email.

“It’s reinforced by French investors who don’t seek outlier returns and are happy with median returns focused just on the French market. I don’t think the government understands it reinforces this by encouraging tax incentives and French corporates to act as venture capitalists.”

Macron, however, has made positive noises about loosening labor laws and regulation, cutting corporation tax, and supporting entrepreneurs. But turning France into Europe’s leader will require more than just law changes. It will need a more global looking tech ecosystem, ready to think bigger than just France.

President Macron has at least inspired entrepreneurs, who delivered a standing ovation after his speech at Viva Tech. The path to become a “start-up nation” will no doubt be tough, but the country will be hoping Macron’s vision will be real, and not just as fictional as unicorns.

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