France: Outlook 2011

18.01.2011 By: TRANSFER

France may well not be the country of golden mountains in 2011, it will continue to be an attractive market with a vastly unexploited potential for foreign suppliers and investors in different sectors.
In the current aftermath of crisis, innovation is identified more than ever as a winning strategy both by French public authorities as by economic actors.

Among the technological trends, we can sharply discern three priorities which correspond to important stakes in France:

  1. Health, sanitary risk, security
  2. Environment & energy
  3. Information and communication technologies

The life sciences sector will remain to be one of the most innovative and developing sectors. Biotechnology grew by 37.7% in 2010 and according to biotechnology expert, Steven Burrill, will be equally promising in 2011. The French pharmaceutical industry is worth 50 billion euros, with 46% made in exports. Experts believe that this industry will continue its expansion in 2011. Moreover, health and nutrition are clearly in the heart of French food innovation.

In the BTP sector (building and civil engineering works), the focus is drawn to hygiene and security. In 2011 building trade should increase again with a slightly positive national growth of 2.2%. It will remain a pillar of the French economy with more than 140 billion turnover and 1.400.000 employees.

Despite the negative connotation of the French textile industry, there are several initiatives aiming at improving textiles intended for clothing: anti-sweat clothes, heating socks, more ergonomic clothes or all-day-living products for handicapped persons. Fibers as linen or hemp are progressively used because they are more ecological than cotton and bamboo which require a lot of water and chemical treatments.

As for renewable energies, solar power (photovoltaic, thermal and concentrated solar power) will represent an important amount of projects. A recent survey by OpinionWay revealed that 69% of the French population named solar energy spontaneously as the ‘sustainable’ field of interest that would need to be developed, just before wind power (54%) and far ahead of nuclear (17%) and agro fuel (12%). Opportunities will also arise for the development of small wind turbines intended for urban use or rooftops. Furthermore, numerous projects concern the improvement of building’s energy performance, energy storage and intelligent management of electricity networks.

Regarding the environmental sector, innovation in the agricultural and aquacultural sectors has the main objective of favoring the utilization of environmental friendly means of production. In the field of phytosanitary products and fertilizers, there are several projects aiming at alternatives to synthetic chemical products. The treatment of waste materials and water are also a high priority for France.

Transportation is confronted with two paradoxical problems: on the one hand the country is faced by an increasing demand of mobility; on the other hand there is the necessity of reducing its incidence on the environment. A call for tender has just been released by the state to facilitate transit and to develop modern mobility. Development plans to improve transportation around the Paris area, the “Grand Paris Express”, are currently being studied. A fund of approximately 35 billion euros will be raised in the next decade to design and build a new automatic underground (130 km) and train networks in Paris and suburbs.

Last but not least, the evolution of software towards universal access (multi-channeling), which leans on the development of internet (cloud computing, etc.), will constitute a strong trend in 2011. The participative and social network services on Internet, called Web conscripts 2.0, are still in strong enrolment growth. Sector federation Syntec Numérique confirms a growth forecast of 3% (2011) for computing services, software industry and related consultancy, after 35.000 recruitments at the end of 2010.

France might not sparkle by its dynamism. However, its never-ceasing drive to be at the forefront of development and technology is visible on every street corner. Interested in getting more details about these sector opportunities in France? Please feel free to contact us.