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.
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 www.bikupan.se 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.
Petra and Åsa together with Bi
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!
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
-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.
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.
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.
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.
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
-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.
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
- 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.
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?
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.
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
Claire, Angela and Michel are in general positive about Sophia
but they lack the facilities of a city. They all live outside
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
, 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.
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
area fascinates Christine. She likes the international atmosphere
and talks very warm about her company and the people she meets
- 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.
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.
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.
talks a lot about the quality of life that he found here in Sophia
- 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.
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.
Rydin, 31 years old, from Sweden works as a senior software
engineer at Trema. He came to Sophia in January 1999. Pontus lives
- 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
- 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.
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
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…