Sophia Antipolis was the first ‘technopole’ in Europe. What exactly is this French city and is this also an idea for the Netherlands?
Sophia Antipolis founded in the 1970s
In France it is always a puzzle to avoid toll roads and that’s how you get somewhere. One of the most remarkable cities I have driven through is Sophia Antipolis. Although the French Riviera has an extensive history of Greek colonization, this city is of recent origin, dating back to the 1970s.
Sophia Antipolis is located in the French region of Alpes Maritimes, near Nice, on the Côte d’Azur. The city takes its name from the former Greek name of the nearby coastal town of Antibes, which was called Antipolis in Greek times.
The area around the city used to be a rather arid plain, but over the years it has been planted with forests. That is why the city is currently a green oasis.
Combining education, research and companies
The city of Sophia Antipolis, home to about 10,000 people, is home to universities, technology companies and research institutes. The city is located in a beautiful area with a mild climate, making it a popular area to live and work. In total, more than 38,000 people work there.
The strength of the park annex city is that a large number of high-tech companies, technical universities and research institutes have been bundled together, making it easy to make contacts and work together.
There are also disadvantages, but these mainly have to do with French laws and regulations. The French do not like to take risks, but prefer to have a permanent job. Although the living environment is pleasant, many people find Sophia Antipolis rather boring. They therefore prefer to live in a big city. Many people also complain about the lack of public transport, and there are, unfortunately, no bicycle paths either. Too bad, because the e-bike is the best invention ever.
Probably not necessary in the Netherlands
In our small stamp, where the average distance is less than 100 km, we are not doing badly. Companies that want to cooperate in the Netherlands can do so quite easily. You will be at your destination within an hour.
Especially in the Randstad, where the distances are very small, it is easy to make contact with kindred spirits. In a huge and fairly sparsely populated country like France, things are different. In that respect, we were lucky, and the whole of the Netherlands is actually a Sophia Antipolis.
On the other hand, it might indeed be an idea to build a more compact variant in, for example, the Dronten area. This would relieve the Randstad and enable us to build a stimulating environment for start-ups and technical partnerships. A kind of Dutch Silicon Valley.