(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google opened a new Paris hub for its artificial intelligence research teams, as the French capital stakes its claim to be the European center of the emerging technology.

The new facility will host a total of 300 scientists and engineers who had previously been scattered around other Google offices around Paris, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said at the opening ceremony attended by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday. 

“Paris is a global center for innovation, and a magnet for tech talent,” Pichai said at the event. The hub will cater to startups, academics and other companies, including ones that don’t use Google AI products.

France is positioning itself as one of the main European hubs for AI. Mistral AI, a French OpenAI rival formed less than a year ago, reached a $2 billion valuation in December. California startup Poolside AI relocated to Paris last year after raising over $100 million in seed capital. 

Read More: France Is Having an AI Moment: Tech Daily

Google has been increasingly focused on AI after strides by rivals Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI are seen as potentially threatening its core internet search business. Last year it merged its DeepMind and Google Brain AI research units in an attempt to keep pace in the race to develop the technology. 

Pichai also met with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier on Thursday. They discussed topics including preparations for a French AI summit planned later this year, the Elysee said.

--With assistance from Ania Nussbaum.

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