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France: Innovators and investors, start up in France!

Innovation is recognised as the major driver of economic growth and creation of highly qualified jobs.

Besides large French innovative companies and big national research institutes, the landscape of 8,000 startups in France is extremely dynamic, creative and successful. Startups are a major source of innovation, and large companies, such as Air Liquide, Sanofi, Orange and Danone, have understood this well. As a result, these companies have created open innovation programmes to fuel their pipes with innovative products outsourced from the startups with whom they collaborate, and in some cases they even buy the start-ups.

In 2015, with 10 French organizations listed among the 100 leading worldwide innovators, the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global report ranked France as the first country in Europe in terms of innovation and the third one in the world! These top 10 French innovators include seven companies: Alcatel-Lucent, Alstom, Arkema, Safran, Saint-Gobain, Thales and Valeo; and three research centers: CNRS, CEA and IFP.

France strives continuously, particularly over the course of the past 10 years, to create a nurturing environment for startup companies, with a sustained government commitment to foster innovation. France's research tax credit (CIR) is an extremely efficient incentive to invest in R&D. France is considered as the most generous country regarding R&D tax treatment.

Moreover, France has developed a strong ecosystem to support the launch and the development of innovative startups. This ecosystem, also labelled La French Tech, is based on support from both the public and the private sectors , the main ones being:

  • BPI : the French public investment bank.

  • 228 public and private incubators. (For example, Paris itself has 36 incubators and around 3,000 startups. The biggest incubator of the world Station F sized for 1,000 digital startups is due to open, also in Paris, at the beginning of 2017.)

  • Competitiveness clusters: 76 specialised technology clusters all over the country.

  • Business units in charge of technology transfer emerging from universities, national research institutes (among them 14 SATTs, CEA valorization …)

  • Business France: France promoting agency.

  • Venture capitalists, investment bankers, angel capitalists.

In France, there is a sharp increase in technology innovative startups raising money. According to, more than 115 funding deals took place in France, reaching a total of €960 million in 2015.

This French tech ecosystem is attractive, and, as a result, foreign investors are also backing French startups: for example, at Viva Technology, a major technology event held in Paris in June 2016 with 5,000 startups, John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco, stated that France is a paradise for startups, and proved it as Cisco agreed to invest $200 million in French startups, which represents 10% of its global investment in startups.

Assets of technology startups are mainly due to the potential of the people and their IP assets to protect their technology and their business (know-how, patents, models, trade marks, domain names, copyright). IP attorneys are, therefore, key players in the French startup ecosystem by working with these nascent companies and their investors.


Laurence Le Texier

Gevers & Ores41, avenue de FriedlandParis 75008, FranceTel: +33 1 45 00 48 48Fax: +33 1 40 67 95

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