42 Le Havre: Embedding a Campus into its Local Tech Ecosystem

42 The Network
3 min readFeb 21, 2024

Nestled in the North-Western region of Normandy in France, Le Havre is France’s biggest and most important port. Renowned for its unique modernist architecture, and having long suffered from heightened local competition with neighboring cities Caen and Rouen, Le Havre has now been enjoying a period of renewed attractivity and growth for a number of years. Having turned the city into a regional business hub, the municipality now aims to attract more students and become an educational hotspot, and 42 Le Havre obviously has a role to play in this.

“The changes that have taken place here over the past decades are nothing short of spectacular” — Alexandra Bricout, Managing Director of 42 Le Havre, comments. Le Havre is one of those cities that has managed to dramatically upend its reputation over the years. Thirty to forty years ago, it was renowned for its docks, the large ships that laid anchor in its harbor and the suffocating smell that emanated from their chimneys. Nowadays, the same freight boats and their containers have become a source of pride for the locals, and Le Havre has enjoyed a renewal of its cultural attractivity while gradually cementing its image as a city with an incomparable quality of life in the region.

Initiated in 2021 by Édouard Philippe, the former Prime Minister of France (2017–2020) and current mayor of the city, the project to bring 42 to Le Havre is part of a wider plan to turn the city into an attractive place for students. Thanks to it, Le Havre saw a number of renowned institutions, including the likes of Sciences Po and the INSA, open their doors. However, despite this initial political involvement, the campus is now completely oriented towards the private sector.

“Although the project was initially upheld by Édouard Philippe, the idea was always to truly embed 42 Le Havre in the local tech ecosystem, and have at least 50% of our funding come from private entities. It is quite a success in that respect, as nowadays, 96% of the campus’ budget comes from private companies!” — Alexandra Bricout, Managing Director of 42 Le Havre.

The city is not short on opportunities for students after they graduate either. Aside from the obvious logistics industry, a number of internationally renowned companies have set up branches in Le Havre. This is notably the case of French energy giants Total and Engie, but also Cisco, and more recently Attineos, a 10-year old Cybersecurity firm that recently fought off a wide-scale Russian cyberattack on Normandy’s regional council. 42 Le Havre is also very active when it comes to hosting events with partner companies.

“We aim to have at least one company event on campus every week. We host events with CTOs, but also with HR Managers, Data Scientists, etc… We want our students to understand that knowing how to code is one thing, but that in order to succeed in a company, soft skills and the capacity to work as a team are equally important.” — Alexandra Bricout.

Going forward, 42 Le Havre wants to assert its position as a reference in Normandy and establish itself as a recognized authority in terms of career guidance. Alexandra Bricout states her ambitions for her campus in these words: “I really want the campus to become a hub for local tech companies, and to attract students because they see the networking opportunities they will have if they join 42 Le Havre. I want 42 Le Havre to become the place to be for tech networking in Normandy!”



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