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Survey: France Biotech recommends policies to develop innovative life sciences companies

Thursday, December 18, 2014

France Biotech, an association of entrepreneurs in the life sciences industry, has published the twelfth edition of its annual survey, Panorama of the Life Sciences Industry, which outlines the industry’s major trends for 2013 and 2014 in France and worldwide. This year, 214 French companies took part in the study. France Biotech included multiple recommendations to foster excellence in the life sciences industry.

“Our SMEs have a very high level of technical expertise and efficiency, allowing them to quickly bring numerous projects to advanced stages of development,” said Pierre-Olivier Goineau, president of France Biotech. “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,” said Groineau. “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 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 our industry from the 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; suppression of the Precautionary Principle that generates fears,” said Goineau.

France Biotech has recommended policies to promote the development of innovative companies in the life sciences. These include: 

  • Placing the innovation in life sciences at the heart of public health policies
  • Strengthen and develop the number of venture capital investment funds by channeling 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 investment cycle, which is longer than in other sectors, a disadvantage made worse by the current status quo
  • Promoting the hiring of young academics using CIR and the JEI status
  • Fostering contractual agreements with academic partners by streamlining the current practices and removing the multiple layers of supervision by various academic institutions
  • Improving competitiveness by lowering taxes related to BSAs (stock warrants) and by extending the BSPCEs (founders’ warrants) to all SMEs.

Since 2002, France Biotech has conducted the Panorama of the Life Sciences Industry in France, a study that provides an annual update on the growth and dynamism of this sector in France. The results of this study allow France Biotech to ground its proposals to the government in hard facts and to effectively represent the entire industry.

The Panorama analyzes data from independent companies allocating at least 15% of total spending to R&D costs. France Biotech surveyed more than 450 companies via a secure online questionnaire and has analyzed the data provided from 214 of the 255 total responses.

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