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Healthcare is one of the leading innovation sectors. In what is necessarily global competition, France can count on a particularly dynamic startup ecosystem.

€40 billion annual revenue and 130,000 jobs created between now and 2030. This is the economic potential of the health tech, or “e-health” industry in France, according to the Faire de la France un leader mondial de la santé (making France a world healthcare leader) study by the Boston Consulting Group and France Biotech, the French organisation bringing together the main innovative healthcare companies and their expert partners.

“French Health Tech” currently brings together more than 600 companies – for the most part startups – that explore the healthcare sector of the future, in the fields of biology (immunotherapy, cell therapy, DNA sequencing and editing, etc.), equipment (surgical robots, medical imaging, diagnostic tools, nanotechnologies, etc.) and digital technology (big data, IoT, 3D printing).

France is the best “equipped” country when it comes to public start-up support

This entrepreneurial fabric is particularly dynamic, judging by the figures shown in the 16th edition of the “France Health Tech Panorama” published by France Biotech. In 2018, 41% of these structures had existed for less than five years. Their youth does not prevent half of them from having produced more innovations than the five leading French pharmaceutical companies (Sanofi, Ipsen, Servier, Pierre Fabre et le LFB) combined.

According to the projections of the experts, the products developed by the 20 leading French biotech firms could ultimately be used by 11 million patients in France and 250 million worldwide.

Advantages and obstacles

To meet these goals, the participants in the sector have a major advantage: well-networked public financing of innovative companies in France. The Crédit Impôt Recherche, the participation in the Banque Publique d’Investissement, the advantages of the Jeune Entreprise Innovante status and the investments by the various Investment in the Future Programme, France is the best “equipped” country when it comes to pump priming support.

But the French Health Tech sector also faces a number of obstacles: insufficient financing beyond the pump-priming phase, a lack of expertise in supporting startups, a certain rigidity in public-private technology transfer and regulations that can sometimes be a deterrent.

By opting for open innovation, multi-disciplinary cooperation, facilitated financing and lighter regulations, France is, according to the industry experts, in an excellent position to meet substantial long-term global market demand.