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Opening of "Fast-Track R&D Partnering with France"

Opening of "Fast-Track R&D Partnering with France"

Published on July 1, 2011
Speech by the Ambassador of France to the US, François Delattre.
Washington, June 27, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure and a true honor for me to join you here this afternoon, as Ambassador of France to the United States, to introduce this event.

I was delighted to discover that 140 French companies have made the trip to come to the 2011 BIO International Convention. So I’d like to welcome all of you to the 5th edition of “Fast-Track R&D partnering with France”. This event is organized by seven French regional biotech and health clusters, all represented here today in Washington, with the support of Ubifrance and DGCIS at the French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry.

With a particular word of thanks to Philippe ARCHINARD, President of Lyonbiopôle, who is coordinating the participation of the seven French regional biotech clusters.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have good news today : the overall context of the French-American partnership cannot be more favorable, as French-American relations have never been closer than today.

- It’s true on the security and diplomatic front (…)

- It’s also true on the economic front. France is in the top five foreign investors in the United States, with 4,000 French businesses supporting more than 600,000 jobs in this country. Conversely, the United States is the number one foreign investor in France, and American investment in my country increased by more than 30% in 2010.

In the same vein, our two countries share the same goals on a wide range of issues such as the protection of intellectual property, which is a priority for many of you.

I have no doubt that an event of the scale of the Bio Convention will help faster even closer ties between our two countries and our companies.

As French Ambassador to the United States, I am especially sensitive to the tremendous impact such an event can make in enhancing mutual understanding at the business level. And when it comes to biotech and health, our two countries already have a lot in common. Both have given birth to successful and renowned pharmaceutical companies, responsible for major discoveries and breakthroughs in medicine.

Both are home to world-class research centers, “clusters” where businesses, universities and investors team up to create an ideal environment for research.

Collaboration is paramount to achieve success in the biotech industry, and I am well aware that for all BIO attendees, the importance of this convention could not possibly be overstated. In fact, the various forums and partnering meetings will allow many of you to clinch a significant share of all your business deals for 2011.

Last year’s forum hosted an impressive 17,000 partnering meetings among more than 2,000 companies, a record that the 2011 edition of BIO could well surpass. This year again, more than 2,000 exhibitors and 15,000 attendees from some 65 countries are expected. Since 2009, France has been among the five countries with the largest delegations, and 2011 is no different.

Aside from the BIO Convention itself, let me say a few words on this particular event: the Fast Track R&D partnering with France. This 5th edition is very promising. Last year, it gathered more than 300 attendees – with French and American clusters, business and research centers equally represented. This year, we are especially delighted to have not only more French and US companies attending, but also to welcome more and more innovative companies from other European and Asian countries.

Many innovative French start-ups and public research organizations are eager to explore collaborative opportunities with foreign partners. The Fast Track is a unique opportunity for them to showcase their know-how and technologies.

To give you just an example, last April, MedImmune, the global biologics business of AstraZeneca, and Inserm announced a three-year strategic collaboration to advance transnational research across a range of therapeutic areas including oncology, respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

This is a great illustration of the kind of collaboration Fast-Track aims to foster, and that is why we are especially thankful today to have the business development representatives of seven of the largest pharmaceutical companies worldwide. For France’s various regional biotech clusters, the Fast-track also represents an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen international ties, while helping spread the word about the top-notch research environments they provide.

Just last year, an agreement was signed between a major cluster - Cancer-BioSante, in southwestern France, and the State of Maryland.

Like previous editions, the 2011 Fast-Track will allow you to explore new partnership opportunities in R&D by learning about French biotechnology companies’ expertise and ability to innovate, as well as the needs of international pharmaceutical companies and the challenges ahead.

Ladies and Gentlemen, make no mistake about it: innovation is today France’s number one, number two and number three priority.

Let me give you a few examples of this. In 2005, we created 71 clusters in all of France’s strategic industrial sectors. Seven of them are dedicated to health and biotechnology. The French government allocated €3 billion - that is more than four billion dollars - during that policy’s first stage, from 2005 to 2008.

Another three billion euros are currently funding a second phase, from 2009 to 2011, plus of course the contributions from the private sector.

The pharma sector is strategic for France with 100,000 highly skilled jobs and sales up to €27 billion in 2009 – that is approximately 40 billion dollars, from which more than 15% were invested in R&D. France is first in Europe in pharmaceutical manufacturing and third worldwide, with an important trade balance surplus.

France is home to nearly 600 biotech companies and the number of biotech entrepreneurs is steadily growing. Most of the biotech SMEs in France enjoy the status of “Jeune Entreprise Innovante” – innovative start up - and are therefore exempted from health insurance payments.
This alone makes France #1 in Europe for innovation support through tax breaks, yet it’s only one of the many initiatives taken to foster the growth of biotech businesses in France.

France also offers the most significant research tax credits in the EU and in the industrialized world more broadly. Companies are granted tax credits amounting to 40% of their R&D expenses the first year, 35% the second year and 30% the following year, for a total of up to €100 million. And this tax credit doubles when research is done in partnership with public research labs.

France is also on the move when it comes to life sciences, primarily inside universities where €5 billion (7 billion dollars) were invested to renovate 10 campuses.

A new Alliance for Life Sciences in France was created. It brings together key French actors: CEA, CNRS, INRA, INRIA, INSERM, the Pasteur Institute and the Chairmen of Universities, with the goal of promoting teamwork and fostering coordination for greater efficiency and better results.

France also recently introduced a unique program, the Strategic Council for Health, which brings together French President Nicolas Sarkozy, five ministries and the CEOs of thirteen large pharmaceutical and biomedical companies in France. The Council promotes the health industry through an emphasis on public-private partnerships, the development of bio-production and improved access to innovation, as well as the creation of a dedicated fund of up to €150 million for biotech companies, called InnoBio.

Just last February, the Lyonbiopole regional cluster launched its Technological Research Institute project in infectious diseases, developed in collaboration with the Pasteur Institute. Major manufacturers, research institutes and SMEs are joining forces to reach a critical size and international scope. With the Technological Research Institute, the economic and technological model of biomedical research is undergoing a true revolution. Among other transformations, it should help:

- increase the rate of technological transfer from academic research to industry

- and implement an innovative career policy favoring interfaces between the public and private sectors, attracting high-level research teams. And the first steps of this initiative are very positive and encouraging, with 60 R and D projects launched within the first three years.

In addition to all this, France launched in 2009 an unprecedented innovation plan of fifty billion dollars of public and private money. This massive investment in R&D offers more significant opportunities to foster innovation in the health and biotech sector.

This series of major initiatives in the past couple of years has made France a better place for researchers and innovators alike.

Innovation definitely comes first in France.

And this stronger impetus to innovation goes hand in hand with a booming entrepreneurship (…).

Let me conclude on this positive note and wish you all a very productive time here in DC.

Thank you./.

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