* Hollande says state can coordinate industrial revival
* Hard-pressed government will turn to private sector for
bulk of funds
* France is a "country of inventors" and must remain so
By Nicholas Vinocur
PARIS, Sept 12 Francois Hollande laid out a
10-year roadmap on Thursday to revive French industry by
promoting new technologies to drive job creation, but which
offered little public money from stretched state coffers.
The Socialist president, whose 2014 national budget next
month will focus on curbing spending, vowed to turn back what he
called a 'lost decade' of conservative rule in which some
700,000 jobs fled domestic industries.
But the scheme will rely heavily on private investment and
the government will act mostly as a coordinator to spur growth
in 34 priority areas, from driverless cars to electric planes
and a new generation of high-speed trains.
"France is a nation of inventors, pioneers and producers,"
Hollande said, citing France's role in previous centuries and
decades in developing technologies from the steam engine to
hot-air balloons and rechargeable batteries.
"We have a duty to remain so," he added, nonetheless
insisting the plan was not a return to the so-called "dirigiste"
state-directed industrial policies of the 1960s and 1970s.
France's new Public Investment Bank will be on hand to offer
credit for innovation - no amount was specified - but officials
said they hoped to match every euro of public money invested
with 10 euros raised from private investors.
State-appointed "industrial officers" will press firms to
work together and develop successors to French projects of the
past such as the supersonic Concorde or high-speed TGV train -
both fruits of state-funded research plans.
With unemployment stuck above 10 percent and the government
forced this week to cut its 2014 growth forecast, Hollande is
fighting to lift his approval ratings above 30 percent. He hopes
such a determined display of optimism will help raise hopes for
the future among the French.
But while officials say 475,000 jobs can be created or
preserved if their roadmap is followed over 10 years, current
data remains grim, with 49,600 industrial jobs lost in the year
to August, according to the INSEE statistics office.
DRIVERLESS CARS, ELECTRIC PLANES
Most new designs presented to Hollande at the exhibition
were built by industrial giants such as car-maker Renault
, automotive parts group Valeo or aerospace
Flanked by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, Hollande was
shown robot technology, models of an electric plane built by
EADS, a driverless car being developed by Renault-Nissan and an
ultra-fuel efficient vehicle being tested in Peugeot's
laboratories that would retail at 15,000 euros ($20,000).
At present both Peugeot and Renault are struggling to
maintain production in France due to high labour costs and
employment laws that make it tricky to adjust staffing levels.
Montebourg has not lacked ideas to stimulate industry, for
example creating an online tool to help businesses that have
moved abroad re-calculate production costs in France.
But clear successes are elusive, despite his declaration
after 10 months on the job that his mediation with vulnerable
companies has saved some 60,000 threatened industrial jobs.
More jobs are still leaving France than coming home. Figures
from March showed that for 44 companies which had returned
production to France since 2009, 267 had outsourced activities,
according to the Observatoire de l'Investissement.
($1 = 0.7518 euros)
(Editing by Mark John and Catherine Evans)