Sophia Antipolis attracts a lot of young people. Thousands of students, trainees and recently employed are newcomers in the park every year. They come here because of the opportunities given by schools, institutions, companies and organisations. This is an attractive place to be for your future as a professional. But of course there are other reasons why young people are attracted to the area. If you ask them, apart from the possibilities of getting stimulating occupations and acquaintances, they praise the sun, the sea and the french cuisine. If you ask them more specifically about Sophia Antipolis, they criticise the lack of infrastructure in the park, public transport is sparse, there are no special lanes for bikes and the need of having a driving license and access to a car is obvious. Young newcomers to Sophia also ask for a more modern, interactive pedagogy in educations and corporations than the traditional French educational formula. However young people don't mind hard work, they learn a lot and they develop themselves.

Petra and Åsa together with Bi

These are some of the findings we made when interviewing young people who work and/or study at Sophia. We used the participatory research technique that has been developed in the "Nineties Report/Global Generation" project. The methodology and its results are presented under the same headline at the site. These interviews were conducted by the two research assistants Petra Johansson and Åsa Olsson. Following interviews are only samples from a broad material, including some films about Sophia Antipolis which are under production. A film in Swedish is already produced and possible to request. The purpose of this work is to get an in-depth knowledge about Sophia viewed through the eyes of young people - tomorrows grown ups and decision-makers.

Angela Anna Christine Michaël
Michele Pontus Vijayan Claire

Michaël AuffretSophia Antipolis is a very international place; here are people from all over the world. Michaël Auffret, 28, is enthusiastic about working in the science park. Since four years he functions as the link between customers and developers for an American software company – Focus Imaging, which specializes in software for medical images. The company is located on a hillside at the very far end of Sophia with a stunning view of the valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Through the giant panorama windows, Michaël follows the final approach of a distant Airbus, ready to touch down at Nice International some 20 kilometers away.

- Being this close to an international airport is important. I travel a lot and it is time-saving to have the departure gate less than half an hour away. Michaël is fascinated about working in Sophia:
- Technoparks like this are rare!

But he thinks it is a little bit of exaggeration to compare Sophia with Silicon Valley.
- Silicon Valley is so much bigger, he concludes. Nevertheless, Michaël expects Sophia Antipolis to grow and that it will continue to Nice Airport with the Alpes develop.

- Sophia Antipolis will always be a success, he argues. Being located here gives a company a lot of credibility. I believe that technopols like this will collaborate even more in the future and that organizations will find it interesting to support this kind of villages, Michaël says with an honest grin. As an evidence of the interest and support for Sophia he mentions the abundance of computer engineers in the area.
-It is quite easy to attract skilled persons to this area; Michaël smiles and nods through the window where the afternoon sun makes the Alps appear in gorgeous way.


Michele LacômeClaire, Angela and Michele work together in a big IT company called Nortel Networks. They’ve all been working in the company for some years and they describe Sophia Antipolis as a village in progress.

- Sophia Antipolis started out 30 years ago but it didn’t get off the ground until 10 years ago and now it´s exploding. The village is special because of the international feeling and it is the centre of high technology in Europe. There are a lot of companies here and I think all the large IT companies will have offices here in the future, says 30 years old Michele Lacôme when she is asked to describe the area.

Michele is originally American and she came to France and Sophia Antipolis in 1994. At Nortel Networks she works as an Account Manager in the Authorised Education Program.

Angela PalandriAngela Palandri is 33 years old and she has been working in Sophia for the last two years. Originally she is Australian/Spanish, living most of her life in the US. Angela works as a Service Account Specialist, in Costumer Service Business Development.
- I´ve travelled in sales most of my professional career and I think it was a combination of sales, travelling and language knowledge that brought me here. I speak three languages and I think that is very important in Sophia for any company to have people that speak different languages. It is the second best if you’re not a technician or an engineer.
- Sophia Antipolis exists because of the technopark, I don’t know what was here before but I don’t think this park could exist without the IT business. The French government wanted an area that could attract a lot of companies and they picked the nicest area they had, she says, admitting that she shares that view.
-Sophia has got everything and the reason it is here is that it attracts a lot of people. We have the beach, we have the mountains and we have the weather. Sophia Antipolis is quite young and I think that attracts a lot of people, that and the high technology.

Claire Gentil, 28 years old and French, first got to hear about Sophia Antipolis when she spent some time in the US. Moving back to France she decided to look for a job in Sophia.

- It is really exciting to be young in Sophia Antipolis and I think most of the people here are young. The French hierarchy is not well represented here and it is possible to advance in your work. I started in the reception five years ago and worked my way up in the company. Today I work in services and support organisations as a marketing and communication specialist.
Claires’s opinion about being young in Sophia is quite similar to Angelas.
- Professionally I think it‘s very exciting to be young in Sophia, there are a lot of choices and stimulation. You meet many of your competitors and see what they are doing straight off and you actually socialise with a lot of different people from different companies. So you know about a lot of things that is going on and I think that is very exciting.

Claire and her colleagues work a lot. They do have official work hours from 9 am to 6 pm but they often work late hours and come in during the weekend as well.
- My official working hours is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with one-hour lunch-break, which is in theory really. We usually do overtime but I gain a lot from my work and I feel good about what I do so why shouldn’t I work hard?

Michele has a three years old daughter but that fact does not stop her from planning to advance in her career.
- If you want a work-life and a family-life you can make it work. I’m not saying it is easy, but you can make it work.

Claire continues to talk about all the forceful and influential companies in the area.
- I think that what makes Sophia Antipolis so special. Each individual company is dynamic and interesting and that is why the park is growing.
Claire, Angela and Michel are in general positive about Sophia but they lack the facilities of a city. They all live outside Sophia.

- Sophia Antipolis is no place you visit in the weekend, then it’s dead really. You work here and then you live somewhere around this area. Very few people live in Sophia, says Angela.


Anna Heinz Anna Heinz from Sweden is 24 years old. At Sophia Antipolis she studies marketing on an exchange program from her university in Stockholm at Ceram, an international business school.
- I had the opportunity to go here on an exchange program and the main reason why I chose Sophia Antipolis was because of the climate and the people, they are very outgoing and open-minded.

Anna lives in Juan Les Pins and she enjoys the variation of the area.
- To be a student in Sophia Antipolis and at Ceram is a great experience for me. They arrange a lot of things outside school, we go skiing in the Alps, I go to a lot of parties, and then we have the sun.

She also appreciates the close contact with companies:
- I took a course in marketing on Internet and the teacher there needed an intern for the summer so I sent my CV in and got the job as an assistant in marketing. Acces Consultations is a consulting firm and they are specialised in strategy communication, which I find very interesting. It’s exactly what I want to do.
- It is possible to combine your studies with a part time job and next semester I will work two days a week. It is interesting to see how a company here works in practice.

Sophia Antipolis is a part of Anna’s future plans, but she wants to see more of the world as well.
- I think I will stay here for two or tree years, I like to travel so I think I will travel a lot. I can picture myself in America or France or Spain in the future. In some big company working with Internet. I think it is the future.
- About the future of Sophia Antipolis I can imagine that it will continue to develop and it is very practical to gather companies like this. My opinion is that Sophia is not very well known in the rest of Europe but it is very well situated so I can imagine that more companies would like to come here in the future.

Anna likes to be in Sophia Antipolis but there are some things she thinks could be better in the future.
- I think the problem is that Sophia is a place were you work or study and then you leave the area. It is quite a business atmosphere and it would be good if it grew to become more like a city.


Christine FourquetChristine Fourquet , 24 years old, got her first employment in Sophia at Trema, a Scandinavian software company. Christine works as a software engineer and she is commited to her work.
- I work hard and I want to prove that I am good at my job.

Christine derives from the south of France and she wants to travel. Sophia Antipolis is a good start.
- I got the opportunity to choose between Paris and Sophia Antipolis and I thought Paris was too big and I had heard that there was a lot of good companies here.
- I think I will stay here for three or four years. Then I would like to go to some other country like Ireland or Canada for a while.

The area fascinates Christine. She likes the international atmosphere and talks very warm about her company and the people she meets in Sophia.
- I think people here are very motivated. If I take myself as an example I don’t think about my holidays as much as I did before because you have it all here. You are quite free and you can organise your life as you like. Personally I like to ski and the mountains are just an hour away. I also like to swim and there are a lot of happenings like concerts and nightlife in the cities surrounding Sophia, like Nice and Cannes.

Christine thinks Sophia attracts young people. Mainly because of the interesting IT companies but also as a result of the surroundings.
- In Sophia Antipolis people are quite young and maybe young people are attracted to this kind of work life when you have the opportunity to choose your work hours, even if you work a lot.
- It is good for a company to be placed here, everybody knows about the French Riviera and it is not hard to get companies here for a visit. I guess that it is one of the reasons why my company is here. Or maybe they just like the sun.


Vijayan Ganapathy Vijayan Ganapathy is 27 years old, and he moved to Sophia two years ago from India. He is a collegue of Christine at Trema where he works as a software engineer. His main interest is in software development. According to Vijayan Sophia Antipolis is a fantastic village to work in.
- Sophia Antipolis is the Silicon Valley of Europe. You have the latest technology and a lot of good companies in the area. We all put in long hours but at the same time we have a lot of fun. We have a lot of parties and it is a good mix of work and fun.

Vijayan talks a lot about the quality of life that he found here in Sophia Antipolis.
- The nature is great and the companies are placed in the middle of it. It is the place to be if you are interested in quality of life. My plan is to live here and work at Trema for some years. What more could a person want but to live and work here in Sophia?
- Of course I miss my family but here I have a better quality of life. I think Europe is the centre of the world. I get more vacation here than in India and then I can go and visit my family.

About Sophia’s development Vijayan claims.
- We could have more companies here and Sophia Antipolis could get bigger. US are the dreamland but I think that if you care for the quality of life you should come here. I think more companies will come here and companies are merging so it will continue to grow. In the future Sophia will be the centre of excellence.


Pontus RydinPontus Rydin, 31 years old, from Sweden works as a senior software engineer at Trema. He came to Sophia in January 1999. Pontus lives in Nice.
- I live in Nice because people told me that was the place to live for a single person. Here in Sophia it is more family oriented. That is an interesting thing about this place, the possibility to choose to meet your own expectations. People here are spread out over the area; people live in Nice, Cannes, and Grasse or in the little villages, all over the Riviera.
Pontus has an interesting background with eleven years in the computer business.
- I dropped out of the university after one day, and after that I have been working in the software business for eleven years. I started out as a computer nerd and now I am here.

- For me it was a challenge to move to France. I had never been working abroad before and I saw this as a chance to see the world and Trema is a very interesting company. It met my expectations and it even surpassed them.

Even if Pontus works hard he experiences a lot of freedom in his work.
- My work hours depend on which project I am involved with, sometimes eight hours a day, sometimes twelve. You have your freedom to choose when you want to work that is one of the benefits in the IT business.

He has only good things to say about the area surrounding Sophia.
- Sophia is a very unique area placed next to the French Riviera. In the winter you can go skiing in the mountains and in the summer there is the beach. Everything is very close to this spot.

To describe Sophia Antipolis for someone who has never been here is a tough assignment.
- It is hard to describe what’ s so special about Sophia Antipolis, but it’s a special atmosphere, a very international one. It has sort of a Silicon Valley feeling on a smaller scale.
- In ten years I think Sophia will be twice as big because this is just the start of it. It will become a very international place in the south of France. I hope that this area will succeed in being the Silicon Valley of Europe.

- One of the biggest benefits for a company to exist in a village like this is that it is easy to attract people. Nowadays it is hard to find skilled persons in for example the Scandinavian countries. The companies have to look for people abroad and it’ s very hard to attract people to Sweden. If a company like Ericsson would place some of its business down here I think it would be easy to attract people, and maybe if your employees live a better life, they’d get more efficient.

Pontus who works with a Scandinavian company in Sophia thinks that the French working atmosphere in general is a bit closed.
- It would be good if the companies could cooperate more.
Pontus likes his life here and he has no intention of leaving it in the near future.
- My future is here, at least for a couple of years. I met a French girl a couple of months ago and she will keep me here for some time, he says with content wrinkles in his eyes…

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