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Opening of Fast-Track R&D

Publié le June 20, 2012
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre
Boston, June 18, 2012
photo: Lyonbiopôle

Monsieur le Consul général,

Mon cher Christophe,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As France’s Ambassador to the United States, I am delighted to be with you this afternoon in Boston to introduce your discussions, and it’s a great pleasure to welcome each and every one of you to the 6th edition of Fast Track R&D France.

I want to express my warmest thanks to Lyonbiopôle and its President Philippe Archinard for organizing this important event. And I would like to add a very special word of thanks to the two structures whose support has been instrumental in making this event possible: the Department for Competiveness, Industry and Services (DGCIS) at the Ministry for Economic Renewal, represented today by Pierre Angot with Cédric Guillerme; and Ubifrance, the agency in charge of promoting French exports.

Here I’d like to commend the work accomplished by Arnaud Leretour, the Head of Ubifrance in North America, and his team.

I also want to warmly thank the seven French competitiveness clusters specializing in health and biotechnology for their commitment to this event and their presence here today in Boston: Lyonbiopôle that I mentioned earlier, in Lyon and Grenoble; Medicen Paris Region in Paris; Alsace Biovalley in Strasbourg; Atlanpôle Biothérapies in Nantes and Angers; Nutrition – Health – Longevity cluster in Lille; Cancer-Bio-Santé in Toulouse and Limoges ; and Eurobiomed in Marseille, Montpellier and Nice.

This event is a key element of the 2009 agreement between the DGCIS and Ubifrance to support the international development of competitiveness clusters as part of a collective strategy.

And for this edition of Fast Track, the DGCIS asked Ubifrance to focus on finding speakers to address the concerns of medium-sized American pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Thanks to their coordination, representatives of more than 70 French companies will be meeting with 250 companies and entities of all nationalities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our views is that we are experiencing at least three technological revolutions at the same time:

- the digital revolution;

- the revolution of sustainable development, the clean tech, energy, the renewables, sustainability;

- and last but not least the revolution in the life sciences, the genetics, the health and biotech industries.

Life sciences, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry are a key asset for the French economy. The Pasteur Institute and Curie Institute, among others, represent the world class excellence of the French life sciences, alongside industrial global players like Sanofi, a world leader in this field, Bio-Mérieux and Pierre Fabre to name just a few.

We must also keep in mind that France has between 300 and 400 biotech companies specializing in the health-care sector. In this regard, my country is ranked 2nd worldwide, preceded only by the United States.

So France has a very dynamic pharmaceutical industry that directly employs more than 100,000 people. It is one of the top drug manufacturers in Europe, with a trade surplus of more than ten billion dollars in 2010. My country also has an excellent health-care system with major hospitals working with research units, thus facilitating access to patients.

France also took an initiative called CSIS—Strategic Council for Healthcare Industries—which brings together the government and France’s largest pharmaceutical and biomedical companies. The latest committee meeting, held in January and including all relevant ministers, decided on 13 measures to promote the development of the healthcare industry. Key commitments include increased public-private partnerships; the expansion of industrial manufacturing in France, notably for bio-medicines; and the strengthening of the medical devices sector.

photo: Lyonbiopôle

Ladies and gentlemen,

Against this background, make no mistake about it : promoting research and innovation is the number 1, number 2 and number 3 priority in today’s France.

And this is particularly true for life sciences. Let me give you three illustrations of this.

First, since 2005 the French government helped establish and fund 71 competitiveness clusters all over France, covering all strategic industrial sectors and bringing together, the American way, the private sector, the universities and the public research labs.

These competitiveness clusters are a great success story. This is particularly the case of the seven of them dedicated to life sciences. Not only are they renowned ambassadors of French R&D in oncology, nutrition and genomics, to name but a few, but they are working closely together on the international stage, as we see it today.

Second, the pharmaceutical and biotech sector is benefiting from tax incentives for innovation that are the most attractive in Europe.

Number 1, France offers the highest R&D tax credit in the industrialized world. For companies receiving the credit for the first time, the amount represents 50% of their eligible R&D expenses the first year. Last year, companies – many of them foreign companies – received over 7 billion dollars in research tax credits.

Number 2 : in addition to that, most of the biotech companies in France have the status of “Jeunes Entreprises Innovantes”, or “Young Innovative Companies”, that exempts personnel involved in R&D projects from paying social security taxes.

Third, France is making an unprecedented effort for innovation through what we call the “investment in the future” program. Overall we are investing 60 billion dollars of private and public money in the key sectors of research and in higher education.

The healthcare and biotechnology sector, which should receive more that 10% of the investment, is one of the program’s priorities.

This unprecedented investment in research and innovation creates many new opportunities for French-American partnerships and for collaborations with other countries.

* * *

Let me conclude on this positive note: you are right to bet on France!

I wish you all very productive meetings./.

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