GovTech, The New Frontier in Digital Sovereignty Etudes de l'Ifri, November 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has been a catalyst for a surge in the GovTech market, while triggering debate around the use of new technologies in the public health response to the pandemic. More broadly, the health crisis has shed a new light on the strategic importance of some domains relevant to GovTech such as HealthTech, smart cities and EdTech.
The French State has developed a comprehensive policy of government digitization but still suffers from a lack of investment in the GovTech sector: so far, it has been unable to nurture a GovTech ecosystem comparable to the French defense technological and industrial base.
At the European level, the rise of GovTech solutions could deepen existing divides between member states, as shown by the uncoordinated development of tracing apps by European countries during the crisis. In the long run, the lack of European industrial and political strategy focusing on GovTech could turn Europe into a battleground for Chinese and American actors, which benefit from governmental support at home and abroad.
The rise of GovTech companies challenges deeply rooted ideas on the meaning of the public sector and the role of the State. It underlines how technology can affect the values and core principles of democratic societies. In that sense, the growing technological competition between the US, China and Europe means much more than economic rivalry: it is a real threat to European democracy and strategic autonomy.
This content is available in French: La GovTech, nouvelle frontière de la souveraineté numérique