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Dating back to Louis Pasteur’s work in the field of vaccination, France has a long tradition of innovation in the field of healthcare.

Thanks to the quality of its hospitals and medical staff, the excellence of its academic and clinical research, the presence of several leading companies in their respective field (Sanofi or Ipsen in pharmaceuticals, Biomerieux in IVD, Air Liquide in medical gas, Legrand in domotics applications for healthcare, etc.) and a strong network of startups, France remains at the forefront of worldwide efforts to better the life of patients worldwide, either in France, in the US or in China.


Thanks to the presence of several large players (Sanofi, Servier, Ipsen, Pierre Fabre, Guerbet, LFB) but also to a number of speciality pharma companies which are leaders in their field (Stallergenes in the fight against respiratory diseases for example), France is at the forefront of innovation in drug development. The French pharma industry invests 12% of its turnover in R&D (around €5 billion, more than its German counterpart).

France also has a whole network of players covering the entire value chain, from preclinical and clinical research to galenics, formulation, manufacturing, packaging, etc. with several key clusters such as Polepharma ( France is the leading country in Europe and 3rd worldwide in terms of drug production by value.


With over 150 biotech firms dedicated to drug discovery/development and more than 400 CROs, France is a major player in this industry. France is ranked second in Europe, right after Germany, in number of full-time researchers working in the life sciences sector. French companies are especially strong in immunology, cell therapy, protein engineering, infectiology and diagnostic (pharmacogenomics, nanobiotechnology and biochips).

Public-private partnerships are the cornerstone of development in this industry and involve a broad spectrum of participants including major international corporations, start-ups and academic research laboratories. These partnerships would not be possible without a top quality academic research environment. The network is dense, and includes internationally acclaimed research organizations (such as Inserm, CERN, CEA, Inra, Ifremer and IRD), leading research institutes (Institut Pasteur and Institut Curie), universities and engineering schools.

Focus on VACCINE: France has also a long history in vaccines, with a worldwide leader in Sanofi-Pasteur and several innovative SMEs developing novel approaches (new adjuvants, etc.).

Focus on IN-VITRO DIAGNOSTIC: 200 French companies are involved in this industry specialized in the convergence of biology, microelectronics, nanotechnology and computer automation. Biomérieux is a worldwide leader especially in China. 10 000 employees work for this industry in France.

France supports 7 regional biotech clusters to leverage synergies between these public and private stakeholders.

  • Lyonbiopôle. Rhône-Alpes. A center of excellence in vaccines, diagnostics and nanobiotechnology with a focus on infectious diseases.

  • Medicen. Paris Région. This cluster focuses on 3 therapeutic areas (central nervous system, cancer and infectious diseases), and on 3 technological sectors (imaging, cellular and tissue medicine and pharmaceutical technology).

  • Alsace BioValley. Alsace. Tri-national cluster specializing in therapeutic innovation.

  • Nutrition Health Longevity. Nord Pas de Calais. This cluster specializes in the health impact of nutrition, and in the links between diet and metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes, etc.).

  • Cancer Bio Santé. Midi-Pyrénées. Center of excellence in cancer mechanisms and innovative therapeutic solutions.

  • EuroBioMed. South of France. This cluster focuses on rare diseases and the development of innovative therapeutic solutions.

  • Atlanpole Biothérapies. Pays de la Loire. This cluster focuses on the therapeutic arsenal, based on cell and tissue engineering and immunotherapy.


France is the leading European country in the food industry, and more and more industry players develop new approaches targeting medical nutrition and the prevention of diet-related diseases. Danone is a leader in this field.


Animal health and human health are closely related. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), 75% of new infectious diseases affecting humans come from animals. With more than 5500 employees, and the largest therapeutic pharmacopoeia (2800 drugs approved), France is a world leader for research and manufacturing of veterinary medicines and reagents. 4 French companies (Merial Virbac, Ceva, Vetoquinol) rank among the top-10 leading players worldwide. The French industry invests 12% of its turnover in R&D.


40 000 employees work for this industry in France, both for innovative SMEs and for large companies such as Air Liquide, Diagnostic Medical Systems, Proteor, Thuasne, Urgo, Vygon, etc. The French industry is especially strong in implants, prosthesis and minimally invasive surgery. In medical imaging, several large corporations have chosen France to establish R&D centers (GE Healthcare for example with 2600 employees). Some SMEs are also at the forefront of innovation in this field: Supersonic Imagine, Eos Imaging, Median Technologies, etc.


France, like other countries, is facing new challenges to sustain its healthcare system and improve the life of patients (ageing population, growing prevalence of chronic diseases, new expectations from patients/consumers, development of personalized medicine, financial constraints). In this context, e-health has a major role to play, and France has developed several policies to support telemedicine, digitization of health data, interoperability of systems, etc. This strategy is implemented through several public/private partnerships involving key industrial federations (companies in telecoms, IT, electronics, software, healthcare, medtech, IVD, etc.). Several French companies are now working in China with domestic partners to develop solutions customized for the Chinese markets.


France has the most extensive hospital network in Europe, which includes, most notably, the AP-HP (the public hospital system of the city of Paris and its suburbs). A partnership program involving 17 French hospitals with Chinese hospitals in 15 cities and 16 provinces has been in place for several years. This collaboration involves:

  • Exchange program of hospital directors

  • Training of Chinese managers on advanced studies in public health

  • Sharing best practices on how to address the issue of limited health access in remote areas


France, like many other countries, has an ageing population, which creates new needs and opportunities. In the Paris region, the industry is organized around Soliage, an innovation cluster dedicated to the Silver Economy. This cluster brings together the industry, the hospitals and research institutes to develop innovative products and services for seniors (home care, domotic systems, emergency care, training of medical staff, etc.).

France has also several leading European players in the field of nursing homes, with a strong experience in caring for elderly people with heavy requirements (Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, etc.). Some of these companies are now active in China in collaboration with domestic partners.