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Sophia Antipolis is a European technology park. Much of the park falls within the commune of Valbonne, which lies northwest of Antibes and southwest of Nice, France. Created in 1970–1984, it houses primarily companies in the fields of computing, electronics, pharmacology and biotechnology. Several institutions of higher learning are also located here, along with the European headquarters of W3C and the ETSI. In the early years, one of the main challenges of Sophia Antipolis was to relate people and to create a sense of community. The "Human Factor" is what was to distinguish the Science and Technology Park in the world as a landmark of science, invention, innovation and research. It was to focus on building an international environment, creating an international community. This means taking into account and improving tenant interaction, networking and cross fertilization of ideas. The concept was that bringing together people from different intellectual horizons and "making" them meet, would bring added value and generate innovation. Many professional clubs were thus launched: The Sophia business angels club, the Sophia Nordic link, Art Sophia, Telecom Valley are just a few.
Sophia Antipolis is named after Sophie Glikman-Toumarkine, the wife of French Senator Pierre Laffitte, founder of the park, and incidentally, Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom, and Antipolis, the ancient Greek name of Antibes. Many of the roads within the technology park have Greek names. There is a giant sculptured Greek urn as a centre-piece on one of the roundabouts.
Garbejaire, the inner residential community
The residential community of Garbejaire is located within the technology park. There is a small shopping centre at the heart of Garbejaire with a post office, bakery, restaurants, hairdresser, chemist, Internet cafe, two supermarkets, two hotels within walking distance, and a church. There is a small park with a play area for children. There is also a large communal corporate dining facility that is shared by several companies on the periphery of Garbejaire.
Several bus routes run through the technology park. There is a bus station with a manned ticket office. The company who runs the lines is called Envibus.fr. One of the bus routes to Antibes goes directly to Antibes railway station which provides access to the Riviera coastal railway. The station is served by eastbound trains to Nice and Monaco or westbound to Toulon and Marseille. The nearest international airport is in Nice.
There is a large national park around the technology park and several large villages on the outskirts of this park. Wild boar live within the park and occasionally walk through the technology park and Garbejaire. There is a large community of small bats that become active as soon as it starts to get dark. It is possible to attract the attention of the bats which respond to mimicry.
Companies and institutions
Partial list of companies (January 2011: 1,260 corporate names, and around 25,911 jobs) and institutions located within Sophia Antipolis:
- Air France
- Altran Praxis (software house)
- Amadeus, a travel industry IT company
- American Express Global Business Travel
- Arm Holdings
- Ashland Inc.
- Astrium GeoInformation Services
- Cadence Design Systems
- Crossbeam Systems
- CSR plc
- Dassault Systèmes
- European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), the European home of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
- Galderma Laboratories
- Hitachi Sophia-Antipolis laboratory
- Icera Semiconductor, now part of Nvidia
- INRIA, Sophia-Antipolis unit
- Maxim Integrated
- Micromania Video Game Retailer
- Mines ParisTech, École Nationale Superieure de Mines de Paris
- MRL Technology
- NXP Semiconductors
- Pixeet, 360 degree software and mobile hardware solutions, International Center for Advanced Communication
- Polytech'Nice-Sophia, (polytechnic school of the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis)
- Rohm and Haas
- SAP AG, SAP Labs France
- Scaleo chip
- Sigma Orionis SA, the oldest spin-off company of Sophia Antipolis (founded in 1984 by researchers from Mines Paristech)
- Skema Business School, School of Knowledge Economy and Management
- Slice Factory
- ST Ericsson
- STMicroelectronics – STNWireless JV.
- Tetra Engineering Europe
- The Next Level
- Triadss Tech Solutions
- Toyota ED2 - Toyota Europe Design Development studio
- TrackInsight - An exchange-traded funds analysis platform
- Valbonne Consulting
- Wall Street Systems
- Coted'Azur Directory of Organizations for Sophia Antipolis