Source of Innovation in France
France’s public research institutes (CNRS, INSERM, INRA, CEA, IFP, INRIA…) have a reputation for excellence that is acknowledged all over the world. In 2006, France won the bid to develop ITER, the experimental nuclear fusion reactor. The project will be located in the Rhône Valley.
France also has a network of universities, and engineering and business schools (or “grandes écoles”) linked to the world of business and research. It also has schools with programs that are shorter and more profession oriented. The ratio per 100 people that have a scientific or technical degree in France is one of the highest in Europe.
This successful system ranks France 2nd in Europe for the number of patents registered.
17,000 patents registered in 2006.
For efficiency and simplicity, innovation in France is shared between public research laboratories and businesses from around the world. In France, 71 clusters have been created by private businesses and regional development agencies since 2005. The clusters include high-tech sectors, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, but also more traditional industries. Since clusters are fully integrated into the local economic landscape, they offer a privileged partnership environment that lets businesses, research laboratories, universities and educational institutes work together as a network. International clusters offer a business development environment that is extremely favorable to foreign investors by providing direct access to specialized networks.
71 designated clusters, 17 of which are international.
Innovation within private companies is supported at every stage of their development. Public funding is available for businesses and research laboratories involved in public/private sector partnerships, especially within designated clusters. Innovative small and mid-sized businesses are also entitled to financial support.
The French government has increased its support for R&D by creating two new public agencies that provide financial and logistical support for the development of innovative projects:
The National Innovation Agency, with 1.7 billion euros of funding
The National Research Agency, with 700 million euros of funding, which has already financed 150 different projects.
Innovation is also supported by a special tax framework, thanks to an ambitious research tax credit system (rates now calculated according to actual levels of expenditure and not increases therein).
Favorable tax rates that apply to company headquarters have just been extended to R&D coordination centers, and the tax on patent revenues has been reduced from 19% to 15%. Tax credits have also been adopted in favor of young start-up companies.