Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Google has announced it will launch an Artificial Intelligence research center in Paris, France as part of its expansion drive. Through the official Google blog, CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that the technology firm intends to tap on the vast science, technology and mathematics resources available in France to power its artificial intelligence research center. France hosts some of the world’s most advanced science, technology and mathematics universities and schools.
Additionally, the firm plans to acquire over 6000 square meters of office space in Paris to complement its current office in the French capital. After the expansion, the firm will deploy over 1000 employees, making France an important hub for its operations.
Recently, France has become an important artificial intelligence hub, with a number of top technology firms pitching tent in the European country. Google’s move to set up an AI center follows that of Facebook, which launched its AI Center in France in 2015. Facebook recently announced an additional funding and staffing of its AI research center in Paris, underscoring the relevance of Paris as a key city for artificial intelligence talent.
Google has not shared the details of its AI research center, although it announced that it will engage local partners in France to create Google Hubs. The first Google Hub will be based in Rennes, with three others being established in the near future. According to Google, the hubs will play an important part in dissemination of digital skills.
The announcement follows a private meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and French president Emmanuel Macron earlier in the week. Macron had also invited Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and more than 140 other CEOs to hold talks about France’s attractiveness ahead of the World economic Forum in Davos.
In December, the firm launched another AI research center in China, although its search engine remains blocked. Indeed, Google’s inroads into foreign countries have had major hurdles, including a $1.3 billion fine it faced in France for tax noncompliance. A French court later quashed the fine.
Google’s new investment in France is seen an excellent bottom-up approach to lobbying the French government.