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Third meeting of the IFA “Russian Investors Club”

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Country focus, Events, France's image, Innovation and R&D, Sectors of excellence; May 28, 2014

The third meeting of the IFA “Russian Investors Club” was held on May 21, 2014 in the presence of Serge Boscher, Managing Director of the Invest in France Agency, and His Excellency Alexander Orlov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France. More than forty participants attended the conference in an informal atmosphere at the IFA’s headquarters.

“The potential for Russian investment in France is considerable” declares Serge Boscher

For the third time, the IFA and the Russian Embassy in Paris brought together the Russian business community with a view to furthering the dialogue initiated in 2013 and to supporting the development of Russian investment projects in France. Nine projects were confirmed in 2013, aided by the Invest in France Agency (IFA), including four first-time investments, leading to the creation of 225 jobs. In all, there are now 38 Russian firms doing business in France, 15 more than in 2012.

Central theme: France, a land of innovation

Alain DEMAROLLE_Membre de la Commission Innovation (2)Over the course of the morning, the participants heard about two recent French initiatives. The first, the “Worldwide Innovation Challenge”, was presented by Alain Demarolle, Finance Inspector and a member of the Innovation 2030 Commission, who offered a reminder of “the sectors in which France is keen to make concerted efforts to promote innovation and in which it has longstanding expertise.” David MONTEAU_Directeur mission French TechThe second, “La French Tech”, a government initiative to support France’s digital economy, was presented by David Monteau, the Director of the program. Mr. Monteau discussed the components of the project’s success, as well as mentioning a number of start-ups that had grown into successful companies. He also invited the Russian community to embrace the initiative and develop ties between French and Russian start-ups.

Alexandre LAMY_ARSISThere were two further speakers at the conference: Alexandre Lamy, a lawyer and partner in the law firm Arsis, who presented France’s latest labor market reforms (Employment Act of June 14, 2013), and Thilo SCHOENFELD_AerospaceValley (2) - CopieThilo Schoenfeld, Head of International Affairs at Aerospace Valley, the world-class innovation cluster for aerospace applications and embedded systems, who explained more about how France’s 71 innovation clusters operate.

The Russian investors who attended gained an insight into France’s potential after hearing from one subsidiary of the Progresstech group, represented by Galya Brovko, CEO France. Progresstech, Russia’s leading provider of intellectual services for the aerospace and air transport sectors, recently decided to set up its first European operations in Toulouse. Ms. Brovko spoke of the support they received from the IFA and Midi Pyrénées Expansion as it entered the French market and expects to create 50 jobs in France over the next three years.

Galya BROVKO_Directeur France_Tucana Engineering - Copie

This innovation-focused meeting served to demonstrate “the convergence of French and Russian talent and expertise”, as Mr. Boscher put it. Ambassador Orlov also reiterated the overriding desire for “Franco-Russian cooperation in high-tech and innovation sectors”. The buoyant nature of the meeting reflects the growing number of Russian projects and investments in France.

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France makes waves at CES 2014 in Las Vegas

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Country focus, Events, France's image, Innovation and R&D, La French Tech, Sectors of excellence; January 22, 2014

France made a big impression at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from January 7-10, 2014. Participants included the Invest in France Agency (IFA), represented by its Chairman & CEO Mr. David Appia, UBIFRANCE (the French government agency for international business development), the Minalogic innovation cluster, and more than 70 French companies, as well as political and business leaders, including Ms. Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, and Mr. Pierre Gattaz, President of the French Business Confederation (MEDEF).

France at CES 2014 Fleur Pellerin

“La French Tech” evening

An evening devoted to the government’s new “La French Tech” initiative, held on the opening night, was a huge success, attracting more than 250 guests. The Minister presented her new projects to promote innovation in France and attract foreign investors to the country she has now dubbed “The Start-up Republic”.

France at CES 2014 Fleur Pellerin

An impressive number of French start-ups at CES 2014

An impressive number of French start-ups attending the exhibition, including several specializing in connected devices such as Withings, Sen.se, Netatmo and Kolibree, demonstrated the strength in depth of France’s digital technology ecosystem to the American media, and provided numerous success stories for Ms. Pellerin to highlight during an interview with CNN.

Fleur Pellerin CES 2014 France

France meeting with American companies

The minister also spoke to various American firms, including Netflix and Good Technology, and paid a visit to the facilities of Zappos, an e-commerce giant with a huge set of operations in Las Vegas. During this visit, she suggested that her American contact should “come and see what Vente-Privée is doing in Paris”.

France at CES 2014 Pierre Gattaz MEDEF

IFA representatives were also able to talk with American companies already doing business in France, such as Microsoft and Cisco, and to promote France to others thinking about setting up in the country.

All in all, the event was a great success for “La French Tech” and all those promoting innovation in France!

Fleur Pellerin with French startups at CES 2014

Find it in France: The WEF’s top ten emerging technologies in 2013

Posted by Invest in France Agency in France's image, Innovation and R&D, Sectors of excellence; February 27, 2013

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has identified the 10 most promising technology trends to help deliver sustainable growth in the decades to come, as global population and material demands on the environment continue to grow rapidly. The Global Agenda Council considers that these technologies – which can be categorized under nano- and bio-technologies, environmental sciences, health and energy – have made significant development breakthroughs and are nearing large-scale deployment.

Emerging technologies

With such promising technologies that could revolutionize the world in the near future, France is at the cutting edge as the second leading country in Europe – and fourth in the world – for the number of patents granted in 2012, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). France’s continued investment and commitment to research have helped make it an attractive location for the 588 foreign-owned firms that are already members of France’s 71 innovation clusters.

The fact that 40% of France’s scientific output is produced through international research partnerships only further highlights the country’s openness and global outlook which, when combined with best practices and government incentives, provide an ideal environment for innovation, as shown by the three following case studies:


Fourth-generation nuclear reactors and nuclear-waste recycling 

Despite its non-descript name, ASTRID is a most promising fourth-generation nuclear reactor, due to be operational by 2020. This landmark research program is being led by the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), and has been part financed by the French government as well as numerous French suppliers, including Bouygues Construction, Areva, Alstom and EDF. With a projected output of 600 MW and an unparalleled safety record, ASTRID represents a major advance on its predecessor Superphoenix.


Organic electronics and photovoltaics

ISORG, a French start-up founded in 2010, has already become a pioneer in the field of organic electronics, developing innovative technology that transforms glass and plastic into smart surfaces that can interact with their external environment.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion and use

The French National Research Agency, in partnership with Areva, EDF, Air Liquide, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the CEA, is currently developing project “VITESSE²”, which seeks to convert CO2 emitted by the cement, steel and incinerating industries into methanol (MeOH).

As investments in research and development continue to flourish, the recent unveiling by Oséo, part of France’s new Public Investment Bank, of two new research-tax-credit and innovation-loan schemes will only serve to further foster innovation in France, and may yet provide a boost to the emerging technologies identified by the World Economic Forum.

Say oui to France Innovation

Indian Investors Club: International mobility and technology partnerships

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Country focus, Events, France's image, Investment in France; July 19, 2012

On July 12, 2012, the Invest in France Agency had the honor of hosting the latest meeting of the Indian Investors Club, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France-India (CCIFI) and with the support of the Indian Embassy in France. The director of the IFA’s India Office, Dominique Frachon, was also in attendance.

David Appia, Chairman and CEO of the IFA giving his opening address.

David Appia, Chairman and CEO of the IFA giving his opening address.

“At present, there are around a hundred Indian companies doing business in France, employing over 6,000 people” explained David Appia during his opening address. Indian companies have a major presence in new technologies and innovation, but India is well-placed to benefit further from France’s infrastructures, technologies and industrial capacity.

Over recent years, the balance of power in trade between the two countries has changed significantly. It is now a two-way relationship between equals. “India is no longer an emerging economy but an emerged economy” commented Dan Oiknine, President of the CCIFI. In a globalized world, India now has a better understanding of markets and business at international level. “India is a large vibrant democracy” noted H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, India’s Ambassador to France. India’s large middle-class population is also a young workforce.

H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, Indian Ambassador to France

H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, Indian Ambassador to France

Just like France, India is very active in the fields of R&D and innovation. As such, the two countries have everything they need to set up technology partnerships. India can also count on France’s industrial strength which, due to its strategic location, can act as an excellent point of entry for companies seeking to conquer the European and Mediterranean markets.

David Appia, H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, John Hadley and Dan Oiknine during the presentation of the PWC report into Indian investments in France

David Appia, H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, John Hadley and Dan Oiknine during the presentation of the PWC report into Indian investments in France.

However, for the time being, as illustrated by the PWC report presented to the Indian Ambassador during the meeting, France’s potential still goes largely unrecognized by Indian investors. The aim of this report is to present the openness of the French economy to foreign investors by highlighting all the measures that have been taken to stimulate investment – France’s research credit tax, centers of excellence and innovation clusters are key initiatives in this respect.

H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, Dan Oiknine and David Appia signing the agreement between the IFA and the CCIFI

H.E. Mr. Rakesh Sood, Dan Oiknine and David Appia signing the agreement between the IFA and the CCIFI

The CCIFI keeps investors informed, promotes meetings between the French and Indian business communities and facilitates occupational mobility between the two countries. As a symbol of the increasing cooperation between the two countries, the IFA and the CCIFI have signed a partnership agreement to develop Indian investments in France.

Dr. Anupam Srivastava, Managing Director, Invest India

Dr. Anupam Srivastava, Managing Director, Invest India

Invest India is also a very important partner for the IFA, as this organization also works to inform Indian investors about investment opportunities abroad by putting them in contact with local agencies.

Christelle Caporali-Petit, an official from the OFII

Christelle Caporali-Petit, an official from the Economic Immigration Office

At the first round table, chaired by Fatia Bouteiller, a legal expert in economic immigration at the IFA, an overview was offered of the basic rules governing the expatriation of Indian investors and skilled employees to France. Christelle Caporali-Petit, an official from the Economic Immigration Office, announced the imminent opening of a one-stop service in five new départements. This service, which is highly appreciated by expatriates, will now be available in 80% of the most affected départements. Agnès Charpenet, a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie then gave a presentation of the tax breaks available to Indian expatriates in France.

Kapil Gupta, CEO of Deltronix

Kapil Gupta, CEO of Deltronix

Kaptil Gupta, CEO of Deltronix, described the advantages that France offers Indian investors by recounting his own success story. In 2010 Deltronix acquired French company F2R, which subsequently made it easy for Deltronix to commence operations in France and Europe, while the merger of the two companies’ client databases allowed it to become a key international player in its field. In order not to unsettle F2R clients and suppliers, Deltronix chose to leverage the company’s French image, notably by maintaining its website in French and choosing a French director to run its subsidiary. Setting up business in France enabled Deltronix to learn different working practices by adapting to local markets where habits and customs are sometimes very different to those that exist in India.

Serge Boscher, Managing Director of the IFA and Sébastien Mantanus, Director of Development at Néva

Serge Boscher, Managing Director of the IFA and Sébastien Mantanus, Director of Development at Néva.

At the second round table dealing with technology partnerships, Sébastien Mantanus, Director of Development at Néva, informed investors of the advantages of France’s research tax credit, which is available to any company operating under French law that wishes to invest in R&D in France. R&D and innovation, as Florent Massou from France’s General Investment Commission (CGI) subsequently pointed out, are two of the main areas that are benefiting from the French government’s “National Investment Program”.

Kumar Kaleeswaran, Director of TCS France

Kumar Kaleeswaran, Director of TCS France

At the end of this round table, Kumar Kaleeswaran, Director of TCS France, offered a practical presentation of the various technology partnerships that can be established. Thanks to the IFA, a “day for innovation” has been set up to ensure that Indian investors can obtain information about France’s economy and the investment opportunities open to them in the country.

John Hadley, Executive Director, Transactions, Emerging Markets Group, PWC

John Hadley, Executive Director, Transactions, Emerging Markets Group, PWC

The conclusion of John Hadley’s presentation on behalf of PWC offered an excellent insight into Indian optimism for future business relations between the two countries and the attractiveness of the French economy to Indian companies: “France is a nice place to visit… and a good place to do business.”

The participants at the closing cocktail reception

The participants at the closing cocktail reception.

Good news: “Europe is back on track”

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Events, France's image, Innovation and R&D, Investment in France; June 15, 2011

The latest Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey concludes that “Europe is back on track” in light of the intentions of companies worldwide to invest and expand in Europe. The report was compiled using feedback from no fewer than 812 international business decision-makers.

The results of the survey, unveiled at the World Investment Conference (WIC) in La Baule, France, were well received as a positive signal by the global business and political leaders in attendance. The findings were reflected in the general positive feeling that pervaded the event about the future for investment in Europe.

There was also good news for France specifically as, along with the UK, it remained an FDI leader in Europe, while Western Europe remained the second most attractive investment region in the world in the eyes of respondents, surpassed only by China.

Attending the conference was David Appia, Chairman and CEO of the Invest in France Agency. He drew attention to the agency’s own annual report, which also confirmed France’s improving position in the inward investment market. He commented that “France remains the leading recipient in Europe of industrial projects. For us, 2010 was a very good year. According to our own figures and the perceptions of the Ernst & Young survey, we expect to maintain our growth.”

Bronwyn Curtis, Head of Global Research for HSBC, was an inspiring delegate at the conference and, when interviewed, pointed out that “France does quite well if you look at the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.” When asked if she felt France is reacting fast enough to the market, Curtis said that “France is moving quickly, they see that they must take the opportunities now.”

Another delegate and business leader who is very enthusiastic about France as a business destination is Cees de Wijs, Senior Vice President of International Operations at ACS. ACS, a Xerox company, runs major cutting-edge urban transport projects in France and around the world. Mr. de Wijs commented that “The future of investment in France is very positive for Xerox. We invest a lot in product development and the know-how of our people and we are confident that we will continue to do so in France.”

Further insight into France’s position in the market was provided by Marc Lhermitte, a partner at Ernst & Young. He observed that “France’s challenge is to make sure that it retains its existing investors and works hard to help them grow.” One other area of progress he noted is that France is now doing well in attracting manufacturing projects.

From a wider perspective, Mr. Appia recognized the importance of the European economy to France’s position. “Companies that come from foreign countries and invest in France do so of course because of the size of the French market, but they also use France as a springboard into Europe. Having a strong, vibrant, dynamic European economy contributes to France’s investment attractiveness.”

France’s strong showing in the Ernst & Young survey, backed up by the views of numerous business leaders at the World Investment Conference, highlights the country’s political commitment to uphold and enhance policies that increase France’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

Recommendations for European competitiveness – How is France doing?

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Events, France's image, Innovation and R&D, Investment in France; June 15, 2011

The recent World Investment Conference (WIC) in La Baule, France hosted a series of workshops with panels composed of global business chiefs, academics, investors and political leaders, resulting in a series of recommendations for European governments.

This collaborative approach sought solutions to ensure that European countries remain competitive and continue to be highly attractive to investors. There was a general consensus that recommendations should not only be made in response to the current economic and social climate, but also be born out of foresight and predictions of conditions in the future.

The suggestions, which sometimes amounted to impassioned pleas, included a request to create a business environment that would be more conducive to apprenticeships in France. Calls to streamline bureaucracy for small businesses in France have already been answered, so it is hoped that this latest request will also be recognized and responded to quickly. As conference attendee Clara Gaymard, City Initiative Global Leader & President & CEO of General Electric (GE) France, pointed out “10 years ago, France was not seen as an enterprising country, but the fact is that today France has the most start-ups in Europe because the business environment has provided the opportunities for these companies to be created.”

Other recommendations for Europe included centralizing bureaucracy for SMEs and changing the culture of public-private partnerships to improve mutual trust. This would consequently help France for example to compete better with China in the speed of getting such projects underway – it takes around two months in China, compared with at least 18 in France, as Marc Duval-Destin, VP Automotive Research and Advanced Engineering for PSA Peugeot Citroën pointed out at the conference.

Another recommendation made was to centralize the promotion of innovation clusters in Europe and their attractiveness to foreign investors. Prof. Delphine Manceau of the Institute of Innovation and Competitiveness said “Competitiveness in European countries is based on innovation in a world where it is difficult to compete on cost and price, so the way to stimulate employment and build competitiveness today is to innovate. France has really benefited from its strong innovation clusters policy”. It is also hoped that Europe as a whole can mimic France in benefiting from cluster promotion. As David Appia, Chairman and CEO of the Invest in France Agency asserted “Promotion on a national and European level is equally important.”

One overriding question that came out of the WIC workshops was why Europe as a whole shouldn’t have a research tax credit and the funding for innovation that France already enjoys. The general consensus was that these are major factors in attracting big business to invest in the country, making France a global model in encouraging investment. Regarding GE’s investment program, Ms. Gaymard pointed out “The tax environment in France is much better than it was before and of course this has had a direct impact on GE’s strategy.”

GE is investing €45 million in signaling and public transport in France, as well as in research, healthcare and hundreds of new staff for their engineering center. “We believe in France, we invest in France, we believe in research and development in France”, added Ms. Gaymard.

Significant funding for innovation gives France a competitive edge

Posted by Invest in France Agency in France and its regions, France's image, Innovation and R&D; May 13, 2011

Companies now have the opportunity to take advantage of the 13th round of the French government’s financial support program for research and development (R&D). The next bidding process for funding as part of the innovation cluster concept will close on September 30, presenting a second opportunity this year to join what has proved to be a very successful initiative.

France is already the second-largest spender on R&D in the European Union and the innovation clusters sit at the heart of the country’s efforts to attract international investment. President Sarkozy and Industry Minister Eric Besson both reiterated their importance in speeches earlier this year.

Building bridges for innovation

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Innovation and R&D; April 8, 2011

Engineers and investors can and should communicate, says biohealth expert Jean-Pierre Saintouil.

Before he became the CEO of the Cancer Bio-Santé innovation cluster, Jean-Pierre Saintouil spent 18 years at Sanofi-Diagnostics- Pasteur and another six at the Institut Pasteur, in charge of technology transfers. In these positions, he became closely acquainted with the faulty communication between the various communities that play essential roles in technological innovation: researchers, business leaders and financial investors. “When engineers talk about their work, they invariably focus on the technological aspects. They often forget to present a business case.” The rifts exist even inside the R&D community: “Scientists engaged in fundamental research tend to be biased against applied research: they are more interested in academic publications.” But things have changed in the past decade and new opportunities are emerging for investors.

Growing green shoots

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Green; February 7, 2011

Those who still don’t believe that ecology and economy can go hand in hand should ask a resident of Lyon. Until 2005, cyclists were a bit of a rarity in France’s second-largest city. Then the municipality introduced a bicycle sharing system called Vélo’v. Unlike the idealistic, unregulated community sharing programs of previous decades – where most bikes were soon vandalized or stolen – Vélo’v relies on electronic locks, smart cards, telecommunication systems and embedded electronics, as well as a public-private partnership with an advertising company that keeps the scheme cost-neutral for the city. The system has been a huge success. Within a year, the number of cycle rides in the city had increased by 500%, a quarter of which were on Vélo’v bikes. In 2007, Paris introduced a similar bike sharing system of its own, the now world-famous Vélib.

Ile-de-France: Ideal conditions for Research and Development (R&D)

Posted by Invest in France Agency in France and its regions; November 30, 2010

For Denis Tersen, Managing Director of The Economic Development Agency for Ile-de-France (Paris region), it’s “important to show that Parisians are not only romantic but tech-savvy too!” For this region does indeed offer ideal conditions for research thanks to its infrastructure, excellent universities and innovation clusters. 

These claims are backed up by the statistics: the latest report on foreign investment in France by the Invest in France Agency revealed that Ile-de-France was France’s most popular host region, attracting 191 job-creating projects in 2009. A study by the French Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) found that these projects included 13 R&D and engineering centers, amounting to over 25% of such investment projects in France and a six-fold year-on-year increase (compared with only two projects in 2008).