France Biotech, the French association of life science companies, in partnership with Ernst & Young, published the 10th annual “Life Science Panorama,” describing the industry's main trends for 2010-2011 in France and worldwide.
Almost 200 French companies took part in this year’s survey. The panorama highlights the maturity threshold attained by the life science industry, equivalent to that of the pharmaceutical industry thanks to a wide variety of highly sought-after products. It also focuses on the first acquisitions of foreign companies by French companies and the first takeovers of listed French companies.
“In spite of the difficult period we are going through, our sector is proving its vitality. Its turnover is continuing to increase significantly and it is entering into partnerships with high potential,” said André Choulika, chairman, France Biotech.
In the report, France ranked second in the world in terms of number of life science companies, with a total of 1,359 throughout France. These companies are mainly located in the Ile de France region (33% as in 2010), the Rhône-Alpes region (15% as against 16.6% in 2010) and the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) region (8.2% as against 10.5% in 2010). It should be noted that 6% of these companies are in the Midi-Pyrénées region and 6.6% (4.9% in 2010) in the Loire region, a trend boosted by the centre of competitive excellence. Nearly half (48.5%) of the French companies are from the academic sector.
Over the past few years, biotechnology companies have become the main potential for growth for France’s pharmaceutical industry, now the largest client of innovative companies (33%), along with public research laboratories. Eighty-five partnerships were entered into in 2011. Biotechnology companies often stem from an academic discovery and then remain closely affiliated with their laboratory of origin. The percentage of partnerships stemming from academic research rose from 49% in 2010 to 52% in 2010, showing an increase in this field.
The report found the financing of French biotechnology companies (via venture capital, IPOs or refinancing on the financial markets) dropped sharply between 2010 and 2011, falling by 40% from $582 million to $350 million. This trend could also be observed in the biotech sector in all of Europe, where financing fell by 36%.
In parallel, the companies questioned continue to overwhelmingly favor the various tools made available to the public authorities (Oséo, the French state innovation agency, and C.I.R., tax rebates for research), while underlining, however, the extremely negative impact of the reform of the Young Innovative Company status.
“The innovation grant reforms [have] blocked the path of many of our fast-developing companies, and may continue to do so,” said André Choulika, chairman, France Biotech. “France Biotech will continue battling to get the government to review its standpoint on the recent reforms and will remain vigilant as regards future reforms.”
Franck Sebag, a partner at Ernst & Young, concluded, “As financial resources continue to dry up, companies in the sector will have to develop more rapidly. Therefore, concentration phenomena could increase, or we may be faced with the development of the 'open innovation' phenomenon.”