France entrepreneurs hit by obstacles
But Frenchman Bruno Lo-Re, who was 38 at the time, was sure his team had a headstart against the Tokyo-based company of 170,000 employees: he had already persuaded the French airforce to let him try them out on its fighter jets.
I knew our tags were best but it was having tested them on Rafales that swung it, said Lo-Re, whose start-up won the 2010 bid and instantly became the world's top supplier of RFID radio-frequency identification tags for aircraft, resistant to high-altitude gamma rays, extreme cold and roasting heat.
It is a success story that stands out in a country that gave the world the word entrepreneur but struggles with barriers to financing that mean only the most determined start-ups will break through.
France has a fleet of established multinationals, from insurance giant Axa to oil group Total, many of which were founded a century or more ago and built up over decades with strong support from the state.
But while U.S. newcomers like Google and Facebook have revolutionised information-sharing, Britain's EasyJet has shaken up air travel and young German firms are pioneers in renewable energy, few French start-ups are making inroads.
The lag is holding back job creation just as mass lay-offs in old industries like car-making, hit by low demand in crisis-hit Europe, drive
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