France Biotech report highlights lack of support for French life sciences industry

16 January 2015

France Biotech, an association of entrepreneurs in the life sciences industry has published its annual survey, Panorama of the Life Sciences, which outlines the industry's major trends for 2013 and 2014 in France and worldwide.

Pierre-Olivier Goineau, President of France Biotech, commented, "Our twelfth study highlights the dynamism and wealth of French innovation in the life sciences, from medical devices to therapeutics, and green biotechnologies. Our SMEs have a very high level of technical expertise and efficiency, allowing them to quickly bring numerous projects to advanced stages of development. This wealth has convinced stock market investors to invest in our industry, a unique phenomenon in Europe that rewards SMEs founded in the 2000s. These success stories belong to outstanding entrepreneurs and their venture capital investors, and are a sign of both maturity and promising growth potential.

"However, our youngest companies are struggling; venture capital investors are fewer and have less power than they used to. The entire funding chain is fragile, and the serious lack of incentives to channel French household savings toward innovative companies can't be fully compensated by the efforts of Bpifrance [a public investment bank]. In order for our innovations to stir economic growth and job creation, some obstacles blocking our way ought to be removed."

These obstacles include excessive paperwork and administrative tasks when dealing with multiples layers of academic institutions; delays in applying to CIR, the Research Tax Credit, a French tax incentive mechanism to support investments in SMEs; a lack of understanding of the specificities of the industry from ANSM, the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products, whose task is to assess the risks posed by new health products; scarcity of the dialogue with the public health authorities; and suppression of the Precautionary Principle that generates fears.

France Biotech makes the following recommendations to implement an ambitious policy to promote the development of innovative companies in the life sciences:

  • place innovation in life sciences at the heart of public health policies;
  • strengthen and develop the number of venture capital investment funds by channelling 5% of the French households' life insurance toward investments into innovative companies;
  • adapt the lifespan of FCICs (a French form of mutual fund) and the status of JEI (a program supporting innovative companies' R&D investments, including through tax breaks) to the biotech investment cycle, which is longer than in other sectors, a disadvantage made worse by the current status quo;
  • promote the hiring of young academics using CIR and the JEI status;
  • foster contractual agreements with academic partners by streamlining the current practices and removing the multiple layers of supervision by various academic institutions;
  • improve competitiveness by lowering taxes related to BSAs (stock warrants) and by extending the BSPCEs (founders' warrants) to all SMEs.

Further information

The study is available on France Biotech website: 

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