Paris: Google will open a research and development centre in France aiming to lure young French IT engineers as part of a major investment programme, the Internet giant said.
Google boss Eric Schmidt met President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the plans that include "the opening of a new engineering centre in Paris and the creation of a European institute for culture," it said in a statement.
Schmidt said in a speech to students at the elite Paris university Sciences-Po that he hoped to recruit dozens of young graduates for the engineering centre and invest "millions of dollars" in the cultural centre in its first year.
Google has previously drawn suspicion over cultural and intellectual property concerns in France, which has vowed to defend its heritage against Google`s plans to digitise books and cultural property online.
France`s government has also raised competition questions about Google`s advertising revenues in France.
The engineering centre "will increase Google`s research and development efforts in France," the statement said.
"The culture centre will be a hub for technology that promotes the past, present, and future of pan-European culture" and will work for "acceleration of the digitalisation of books, documents, magazines, etcetera," Google said.
"Why now? And why in France? Because the French adopted the Internet so quickly, the ad market is one of the most sophisticated, and the French love Google more and more," Schmidt said.
"It`s more than a business operation. We are very serious about our investments in culture in the long term."
Sarkozy welcomed the plans, saying in a statement he sought "a balanced relationship... between Google and the French and European culture industry whose economic models and practices have been turned upside down by new digital technology."