French President Jacques Chirac said a new government fund aimed at promoting industrial innovation would invest its first euros in five projects, including an Internet search engine and a new mobile television standard, an Associated Press report said.
Credited with an initial budget of 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion), the Industrial Innovation Agency would plow 236 million euros ($293 million) through direct financing and loans into the five projects, which were all aimed at creating or maintaining high-tech jobs in France, the report said.
The report further said the agency would extend its largest support, about 90 million euros ($112 million euros), to "Quaero," a project led by video-technology company Thomson to develop an Internet search engine.
"We mustn't lose time," Chirac said during a presentation of the agency in Paris. "Among the top 30 companies worldwide investing most in research, only one is French."
The agency was set up last year as part of a broader effort to support innovation amid concerns that France might be losing ground in what Chirac described as "a world race for high-technology pre-eminence," the report said.