France: a innovation powerhouse

With gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) of US$48.6 billion in 2015, amounting to 2.2% of GDP, France was ranked sixth in the world after the United States, China, Japan, Germany and South Korea.

Five sectors account for more than half of all business enterprise R&D expenditure in France: the automotive industry; aerospace; the pharmaceutical industry; scientific/technical activities and IT/computer services. Business enterprise R&D intensity increased 14% from 2007 to a new high in 2015.


Large pool of researchers

There were more than 266,000 researchers in France in 2016. With more than 14 R&D personnel per thousand labor force in 2014, including nine researchers, France was ranked fourth among the 14 countries compared by Business France in the “France Attractiveness Scoreboard” after Finland, Sweden and Austria. In 2016, 50.5% of economically active 25- to 64-year-olds in France were employed in science and technology and/or were tertiary education graduates, which is higher than the EU-28 average of 46%.


Supportive ecosystem

Almost all senior executives polled (more than 8 in 10 foreign decision-makers) believe that the French Tech is a useful initiative for promoting French expertise on the international stage. (Business France/Kantar Public survey)

Innovation is recognized by business decision-makers to be a driving force behind France’s attractiveness as an investment location, as is the thriving “La French Tech” ecosystem. These achievements show that French creativity and innovation go hand in hand towards achieving business success.

Moreover, the French tax system actively encourages R&D through France’s research tax credit. The number of private-sector researchers rose 30% between 2007 and 2014, as 37,000 high value-added jobs were created.

Throughout France, a large number of business incubators and accelerators are on hand to give new companies advice and guidance, as well as opportunities to work with a network of professionals. In 2017, the world’s largest incubator, Station F, opened its doors in Paris, with space for up to 1,000 startups.

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France : a innovation powerhouse

Innovative businesses

France is a haven for innovation by all businesses, large or small. With 97 companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA, France continues to outstrip all its European counterparts as the leading country for fast-growing technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

France is also the third leading country in the Top 100 Global Innovators, with 10 French entities among the 100 most innovative organizations in the world. They include three research centers (CNRS, CEA, IFP Energies Nouvelles) and seven companies (Alstom, Arkema, Safran, Saint-Gobain, Thales, Total and Valeo).

Highly qualified, productive workforce

Eighty-six percent of foreign chief executives surveyed believe that workforce education and training in France is an attractive criterion for foreign investment.

With an outlay on education equivalent to more than 5% of GDP, France is one of the countries that invests the most in its education system.

France attracted more than 310,000 foreign students in 2015-16 (Campus France, 2017), and was the leading non-anglophone destination in the world for international students. (UNESCO, 2017)

France is ranked first in the FT Masters in Management, with two Parisian institutions in the top 10 (HEC and ESSEC).

Labor productivity is high in France on both a per-employee and hourly basis: in 2016, France was ranked seventh in the world for hourly labor productivity.

France also has a very well qualified workforce: 44.7% of 25- to 34-year-olds hold a tertiary qualification, as do 33.5% of 25- to 64-year-olds.

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France: a talent hub