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        French smart tech firm CEO eyes bright future in SZ

        Writer: Zhang Zeling  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From:   |  Updated: 2024-04-19

        Laurent Le Pen speaks at an international maker innovation conference in Huaqiangbei in 2022. File photos

        As the founder and CEO of wearable tech company Omate and co-founder of smart oral care startup Oclean in Nanshan District, Laurent Le Pen plays a pivotal role in the La FrenchTech Hong Kong-Shenzhen Community. The group cultivates close connections among FrenchTech startup founders in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).

        Relocating to SZ

        At the age of 25, he told his friends and family in France that he was moving to a city near Hong Kong and arrived in Shenzhen on Dec. 27, 2007. Seventeen years later, he still lives and works in the city and is happily married with two kids.

        Before coming to Shenzhen, Le Pen had a great job in France. He started his career in the telecom industry in Le Mans, France, where he worked as a strategic buyer for a subsidiary of Philips Mobile.

        In 2007, those fields experienced a major disruption with the emergence of the smartphone era and the launch of Apple’s first iPhone. Additionally, as the heart of the telecom industry’s supply chain became increasingly integrated in Shenzhen, he was offered the opportunity to work in the city.

        Le Pen volunteers at La FrenchTech to support good business relationships and cooperation between France and China. He believes that there are many things the two countries can share with and learn from each other.

        Le Pen with his children on Phoenix Mountain in Bao’an District in 2022.

        Le Pen views Shenzhen as an ever-evolving city that continually upgrades itself, not only through infrastructure development such as new Metro lines, but also through its inhabitants, who come from all over China and the world to realize their dreams. Shenzhen is a city of the future with an environment that is improving every year. The safety of the city is also a key reason that attracted Le Pen to stay, especially since he is a father.

        He still remembers when Shenzhen was recognized as a UNESCO City of Design in 2008.

        There are more designers in Shenzhen than anywhere else in the world. The recognition had a profound impact on him because design is not only about the look and feel of something; it also encompasses how things work together harmoniously—from design to engineering. “Shenzhen is just a few years older than me. She is modern, elegant, and smart. In French, a city is called ‘une ville.’ That is a feminine noun, so Shenzhen is like my older Chinese sister — 我的姐姐, ” he said.

        City of future

        Le Pen appreciates the way Shenzhen is focusing on green development while continuing to be an industrial powerhouse, especially with the emergence of electric cars, the smart city, and connections between all the cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. It is a leading city of the future, and he often tells people that Shenzhen and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will be the first place in the world to have flying cars.

        He has always been interested in electronics and everything related to the future, so it was natural for him to transition into the Internet of Things (IoT) field after his time in mobile phone design. From design to engineering and tooling to final assembly, including chipsets and batteries, the entire talent supply chain is located in Shenzhen. This concentration speeds up the development of smart IoT products.

        “Wearables and other connected devices all share the same goal, which is to improve our lives. It is very satisfying to design products and services that make our lives better,” Le Pen said.

        Omate, Le Pen’s health-device-focused company, mainly designs smart watches for seniors and people who need protection. This project makes him proud because they save lives every day.

        Le Pen keeps his motto, “be more productive and focus on things that matter,” in mind when working. He used to add more things to his to-do list but has learned that “less is more,” especially in product design. He believes that it is better to be an expert in one field than to be average in multiple ones. 

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