Halle Freyssinet is an enterprising venture in Paris that hopes to become the world's largest startup incubator soon. Officials of the French capital expect to attract over 1,000 domestic and international tech firms to become a part of this scheme.
Paris city's mayor Anne Hidalgo anticipates that the venture worth €200m (£150m, $216m) will take the city to the top in international technology. The project itself is one of the largest and most impressive of her projects, according to a Guardian report. The site is a 1927 railway yard that was previously used by the state railway company to unload goods.
According to Hidalgo, "It's a win win situation. At a time when our economy is in the doldrums we need to accelerate job creation and give youngsters opportunities to find employment by linking public and private investment. In doing so everyone wins."
The hall, which spans 35,000sq m, hopes to house 1,000 startup offices. It will also incorporate a 400-seater auditorium. It has been privately funded by telecommunications and technology magnet Xavier Niel, who is also the founder of French internet service provider, Free. Niel, whose total net worth is estimated to be roughly $10bn (£7bn, €9bn), is also the co-owner of the Le-Monde newspaper. His investment in the Halle Freyssinet project is believed to come out of his private funds.
Commenting on the sheer magnitude of the Halle Freyssinet project, Niel said: "We're deliberately creating something that is the biggest in the world and make people look at us and realise it's not just the Anglo Saxons who can create things bigger and better".
Construction work is being overseen by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. He said that transforming the railway goods yard into a slick and professional work base for digital entrepreneurs has been challenging. "It's really astonishing architecture and a delicate job to restore", he said. The architectural makeover has been in the works since 2015 and is due to be completed by 2017.