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European Biopharmaceutical Review

French Connection: A Record for Foreign Investment

Géraldine Filippi of the Invest in France Agency, London, discusses France’s flourishing climate for biotech

In the current European market, and in particular the biotechnology sector where investment is becoming increasingly wide-reaching, France is stealing a march on its neighbours. Since 1997, the country has experienced a real explosion of biotechnology companies, the vast majority of which were created in the last 15 years. The sector currently consists of over 400 companies and has been responsible for some of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the life sciences, including the joint discovery of the AIDS virus and the first successful gene therapy. As a testament to its growing size, the biotech industry in France generates revenues of ˆ757 million and now employs between 4,000 and 5,000 people.

As one of the key foundations of this booming sector, France ranks second only behind Germany in the number of scientists in the country (320,000) and the amount of money invested in R&D (US$31 billion). A burgeoning industry is well-served by a range of scientific organisations, public hospitals and universities, further strengthened by the highest productivity levels (GDP per person per hour) at US$34 in Europe. With all these positives in mind, France’s biotechnology industry has consistently grown at one per cent a year over the last 10 years, compared with losses in neighbouring countries.

On a wider scale, foreign direct investment (FDI) as a whole in France has increased significantly in recent years. In 2005, France reached record investment figures and reported 664 FDI projects, an increase of 12.5 per cent compared with 2003, which created 33,296 new jobs. In the same year,44 per cent on 2004 figures.

With such favourable foundations creating a solid investment the UK became the country’s third largest investor, with an 8.6 per cent market share and 61 projects leading to the creation of 2,600 jobs – an increase of platform across the French biotechnology industry and an environment conducive to creating success, British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has recently announced plans to invest ˆ500 million over the course of the next five years with the development of a subsidiary site in northern France. This investment represents one of the largest outside investments in the pharmaceutical industry in France in the last 10 years and focuses specifically on vaccine production – a development area undergoing rapid expansion worldwide.


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Géraldine Filippi was named Director at the Invest in France Agency, London, on 1st November 2003, after three years in the New York office of the Invest in France Agency, North America. She previously worked as Director of Public Relations for The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana and the Director of the Italian Culinary Center in New York City. Prior to that position, Géraldine was employed as Press Attaché and Personal Assistant to Isabella Rossellini. Géraldine received a Law degree from the Université Pierre Mendes France in 1995, and a masters in Public Law and Administration in 1996. In addition, she obtained an undergraduate degree in Business Technology, Management and Administration. Géraldine speaks English, French, Italian and German fluently.
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