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The Boston Globe

Business

Innovation Economy

Can France create its own Kendall Square?

PARIS — On the Fourth of July, I boarded a commuter train at a subterranean station a few blocks away from Notre Dame and the Sorbonne. The car was standing-room-only, but as we headed southwest out of the city, it began to empty out. When I disembarked at the town of Orsay, just over a half an hour from downtown Paris, there were fewer than 20 passengers.

I’d come to see the place where the French are hoping to create Europe’s biggest education and innovation cluster, and possibly “the number three tech cluster in the world, after Boston and Silicon Valley,” in the words of Patrick Cheenne, director of economic development at the Paris-Saclay Development Authority.

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