The pandemic did not dampen foreign investors’ confidence in France’s potential. The figures unveiled by Business France on March 29, 2022, speak for themselves: an almost 10% increase in the number of projects and 14% in the number of jobs from 2019, which was already an exceptional year. There were also 176 further new openings compared with 2020. A total of 59% of these projects were supported by Business France.
“We predicted a rebound, but what we’ve seen is a surge of unprecedented magnitude,” said Christophe Lecourtier, CEO of Business France.
Every day, on average, more than four foreign investment projects target France, creating or maintaining more than 120 jobs.
The attractiveness of the entire French nation, all sectors combined, is therefore growing incessantly, when already since 2019, France has been the leading destination for foreign investments in Europe.
“These exceptional results leave us with three key pieces of information: France fits very well into the globalized economy and contributes to European economic integration; its attractiveness continues to grow (…); and foreign investors’ confidence in our country emerged stronger following the Covid-19 health crisis,” said Christophe Lecourtier, CEO of Business France.
Germany was the leading foreign country to invest in France, ahead of the United States, with 18% of investments (United States, 15%; United Kingdom, 9%). In total, investment projects came from some sixty countries.
Healthcare remains the leading industrial sector popular with foreign investors, in terms of number of projects.
These investments concern both manufacturing projects and R&D projects by international firms specializing in the pharmaceutical industry (HTL, Recipharm, etc.) or in medical devices (Medicom, Tokibo, Getinge, etc.). The German firm Merck is investing €25 million and creating 500 jobs at its vaccine production center in Molsheim (Grand Est).
Similarly, the British firm SharpTX, a specialist in innovative digital therapies for detecting, preventing and treating nervous system disorders, set up operations in France following Brexit. It created Five Lives in Tours (Centre-Val de Loire) for its R&D development and the deployment of its products, and plans to hire 40 people.
Foreign investors are fostering France’s reindustrialization
Several foreign subsidiaries are supporting the French government’s reindustrialization efforts under the recovery program and the “France 2030” plan. The Japanese firm Sophysa, for example, which specializes in neurological devices, has decided to partially relocate its operations to Besançon and is planning to hire 150 new employees, with a view to tripling its production capacity in France over the next 10 years.
Likewise, Biogen set up its global digital health innovation hub in France in 2017. Already boasting an investment budget of €100 million over five years, the American laboratory headed by Frenchman Michel Vounatsos decided last year to inject a further €75 million.
This dynamic is continuing in 2022.
Evidence of this can be found in the announcements made at the beginning of the year by the giant Pfizer, which is preparing to invest €520 million over five years in France to support the production and research of treatments for Covid-19. In addition, Pfizer has decided to entrust the production of Paxlovid, an oral treatment to reduce the risks of hospitalization, to its French supplier Novasep.
Foreign investment funds are also banking on French healthcare talent. The American player Vida Ventures has taken part, alongside Jeito, in a €20 million round of financing to support the development of Innoskel (Nice), a gene therapy platform designed to treat more than 250 forms of skeletal dysplasia.
The whole of France is attracting investors.
A total of 45% of the projects and nearly three-quarters of industrial investments benefited municipalities with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. For example, Purelab Plastics, an American producer of plastic parts for medical use, increased its capacity and will create several dozen jobs at the Moirans-en-Montagne site, a town of 2,000 inhabitants in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The Canadian firm Medicom invested €55 million to build an automated protective glove factory and create 300 jobs in Bessé-sur-Braye, a town of 2,200 inhabitants in Pays de la Loire.
In all, 460 manufacturing foreign investment projects were recorded in 2021 in the country, a record that proves that “Made in France” is more fashionable than ever.