HealthTech Plan for the future of French biotech

Situational analysis and possible solutions to further develop a decisive sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

In this context of health crisis, Boston Consulting Group, Bpifrance, BioUp and France Biotech have provided an objective assessment of the situation of HealthTech in France. They recommend an action plan that could fuel discussions at both the national and European levels.

The pandemic that the world has been facing for more than a year shows the importance of merging innovation and healthcare. In Europe, France has more tech companies in the healthcare sector listed on the stock exchange than Germany (61 compared to 40). Moreover, their capitalization has grown by almost 70% in one year. However, France has no biotech companies with a capitalization over 1 billion whereas Germany has six, two of which have over 2 billion. Yet, a company’s critical size is essential to trigger a virtuous for innovation and allow growth creation and job stability.

In view of this observation, Bpifrance, Boston Consulting Group, BioUp and France Biotech have worked together on an action plan to lift constraints that still prevent French startups from reaching their full potential. "The HealthTech ecosystem has grown a lot in the last five years. Our challenge now is to renew the collective ambition of all the players so that HealthTech becomes a major technological sector for France," said Paul-François Fournier, Executive Vice President and Executive Director of the Innovation Division at Bpifrance.


Building a Health Innovation Agency

At the 2021 Strategic Council for Health Industries (in French, Conseil Stratégique des Industries de Santé), French President Emmanuel Macron has set an ambitious goal: "France must become a leading nation in terms of health industry and innovation". To this end, the authors of the HealthTech Plan interviewed some thirty stakeholders in this sector, and identified three lines of work:

  • Attracting and supporting the development of talents to strengthen the capacity to execute, fostering the professionalization of the ecosystem, maximizing the chances of success and the scaling up of robust innovative companies from their inception.
  • Structuring an industrial policy in healthcare to concentrate means, outline priority "hubs", give visibility to all actors, provide the best possible support for companies, and help with the development of an industrial infrastructure.
  • Simplify the administrative framework, particularly in the areas of technology transfer, clinical research and market access, to make it more attractive for health innovation.

These actions could be steered by a new cross-disciplinary institutional participant, a Health Innovation Agency. The mandate and resources will have to be defined in such a way as to ensure that it has enough legitimacy to implement shared priorities and reduce the challenges faced by HealthTech.


Economic and strategic potential

Innovation in the health sector holds high economic potential. For example, this sector currently generates the fourth largest trade surplus in France. If we focus on HealthTech (which excludes the major pharmaceutical groups), the sector’s main companies generated a turnover of nearly €800M in 2019 in France, almost twice more than in 2014. If we look at the positive dynamics observed in Boston (Massachusetts), biotech and medtech could provide 180,000 direct and indirect jobs in France by 2030, i.e. 130,000 more than today.


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