Support for Research and Innovation

Innovation Comes First

The presence of highly qualified researchers, the availability of expertise and a very conducive research environment have convinced nearly 400 foreign companies to invest in new R&D centers in France since 2001, with more than 100 of these investments coming in the last three years.


The "National Investment Program"

€35 billion to increase growth potential by stimulating both public-sector and public-private partnership research, and by fostering investment in cutting-edge fields and world-class industrial sectors. A total of more than €27 billion had been committed by July 2013 (of which €22.2 billion had been formalized through contracts).

Assessment of candidate projects by international panels, managed by the General Investment Commission (Commissariat général à l’investissement – CGI) a body that falls under the authority of the Prime Minister and has, since June 2012, been headed by former EADS Chairman Louis Gallois.

● €2.2 billion from the “National Investment Program” were reallocated at the start of 2013 towards five areas: support for innovation and specialist sectors; development and distribution of generic technologies; training; energy transition; and the development of the living economy and healthcare.

A new phase for the "National Investment Program"

● On July 9, 2013, the Prime Minister announced a new phase of the “national investment Program” worth €12 billion. Half this sum will be spent on research and the energy transition, while other priorities include future industries, aerospace, the digital sector, healthcare, technological excellence, and training.

France offers the best research tax credit in Europe

Covers 30% of all R&D costs up to €100 million, and 5% above this threshold. As of 2013, innovation expenses incurred by SMEs are also eligible for the research tax credit (up to €80,000 of tax credit a year).

France’s research tax credit is also a powerful incentive for research partnerships, as all expenditure contracted out to public-sector bodies is double-counted, thereby effectively doubling the research tax credit. Salaries paid to junior final-year doctoral and post-doctoral research personnel on their first permanent contract are quadruple-counted when calculating the research tax credit for two years.

The research tax credit and “innovative new company” (JEI) schemes have been fixed for five years to provide businesses with visibility and legal security.

France’s public investment bank, bpifrance, offers two solutions to promote the use of the research tax credit by micro-enterprises and SMEs, by guaranteeing and pre-financing the research tax credit.

More than 15,000 businesses have received the research tax credit, declaring €18.39 billion of research expenditure in 2011. Total tax relief for research tax credit recipients amounts to €5.17 billion.

France is ranked first in Europe for corporate tax rates on R&D operations, taking into account tax bases, depreciation allowances, tax exemptions and tax credits. (Source: KPMG, Competitive Alternatives, 2012)

France was ranked sixth in the world in 2013 for the average cost of employing a researcher once tax incentives are taken into account, with lower costs than in the United States, Japan and Germany. (Source: French National Association for Technical Research (ANRT), 2013)

Universities and research institutions open to partnerships with companies

French universities can enter into partnerships with companies, access funding through university foundations and set up commercial subsidiaries to manage patent portfolios.
Excellence initiatives ("INDEXs") are to foster five to 10 world-class multidisciplinary higher education and research centers. These projects will receive €7.7 billion in funding from the “National Investment Program".
Twenty-six “research and higher education hubs” (PRES) are being set up, involving nearly 60 universities, hospitals, higher education institutions and research establishments (ENSAM Engineering School, Institut de Physique de Grenoble, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, etc.).
“Technology research institutions” (IRTs”) bring together manufacturing expertise and public-sector research in a public/private joint investment framework. Public funding for these institutions amounts to €2 billion.
● “The Higher Education and Research Act passed on July 22, 2013 seeks to improve student success rates and enhance the profile of research in France. It has now been made easier for young people to obtain work experience during their studies, either through work-study contracts or more closely monitored internships during the first years of university

Patent applications

France is ranked second in Europe and sixth in the world for the number of international patents filed. 7,739 international patents in 2012. (Source: WIPO, 2013)

Single European Patent

Starting in 2014, inventors will be able to request a single patent from the European Patent Office (EPO) to provide legal protection in 25 European Union Member States, thereby leading to reduced costs. Patent applications may be written in French. Paris has been chosen as the main location for the new Unified Patent Court’s central division.

"The Saclay area is attractive because the
investment in France in a major R&D center
allows us to work closely with the university and
allows us to work closely with external
companies and technologies that we may not
have internally. " Chuck Davis, R&D Vice-President Kraft Food Europe

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