The French Riviera, long a playground for movie stars and millionaires, became a haven for stressed-out techies, too, with the creation of Sophia Antipolis, a would-be Left Bank for technology.
Built in the 1960s by decree, Sophia Antipolis, outside Cannes, lacked the edge that has driven innovation in places like Silicon Valley, which it predated. Still, it has more than 18,000 high-tech workers today and 80 percent of its companies have eight or fewer employees, a hallmark of the tiny but brilliant startups that fuel a science center.
Focus Imaging is one. The company, also based in San Francisco, develops 3-D technology that helps doctors diagnose diseases in early stages. Bigger companies include Thomas Marconi Sonar, Legrand and Air France.
Loaded with laid-back charm, Sophia Antipolis looks like a country club, bordered by the Mediterranean and mountains, and dotted with golf courses and tennis courts.
"There's a certain spirit of working here that I doubt you have anywhere else," said Emmanuelle Donnet, in charge of communications for the agency that manages Sophia Antipolis.
Written By Angela Doland