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RIO Country Report France 2016

The annual RIO Country Report offers an analysis of the R&I system in France, including relevant policies and funding, with particular focus on topics critical for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the French research and innovation system and assesses the policy response.


Executive summary


  • The French economy slowly recovers from the 2008 crisis with a +1.3% growth rate in 2015, led by household consumption as well as, to a lesser degree, by a pick-up in investment
  • The French trade deficit is persistent. Few high-tech industries such as the aircraft or the aerospace industry were able to perform on international markets along with the cosmetic, agro-food and luxury industries. The French productivity is one of the highest in Europe.
  • In terms of R&D expenditures, France’s GERD has kept on growing in nominal terms since 2006. Within the EU28, France ranks second after Germany.
  • The GERD to GDP ratio was 2.24% in 2014. France ranks 8th, above the EU28 average (at 2.03% in 2014), with a general increase of R&D intensity since 2007.
  • While France has introduced a high number of policy reforms aimed to improve research performance over the last ten years, national levels remains at average stage both in quality and in quantity.
  • According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2016, France is within the group of “strong innovators” in terms of innovation performance.

Main R&I policy challenges

  • Simplify and improve the efficiency of innovation policy. France presents a wide range of policy instruments and public organizations to foster innovation but shows an average performance in terms of innovation outputs. This mismatch between the number of policy instruments and their actual outputs has led to the implementation of a number of policy initiatives aimed to simplify and improve the efficiency of innovation policy.
  • Promote R&I policy evaluation. Over the past 15 years, priority for innovation has led to a multiplication of policy instruments without sufficient stability and clarity of objectives. In that context, the lack of evaluation of the complete portfolio of policy instruments in support of research and innovation has been a repeated concern.This lack of regular evaluation induces difficulties for policy makers to assess their past decisions and ground their future policies. To tackle this issue, several evaluating organizations were recently created and stand as a step forward in the development of an evaluation culture.
  • Increase the quality of the public research base. The average performance of public research is considered as a factor of continuing concern as the French scientific output has been moderate when compared to similar countries for the last ten years. Many reforms have recently been implemented to modify the public research structure. Successive governments have made substantial efforts to further influence research orientations, to increase the role of universities and foster the use of project funding.

Main R&I policy developments in 2016

  • Adoption of the French National Strategy on Research Infrastructure
  • Preparation for the launch in 2017 (probably) of a third wave of investments for the future (PIA3)
  • New fiscal rules on investments in SMEs with an accelerated amortization scheme for investors since 2015 (40M€)
  • Additional development funds at BPI oriented towards large projects
  • The Social Innovation Fund (Fonds d'Innovation Sociale or FISO)
  • Launch of the Institutes Convergence (interdisciplinary research centres)


Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Friday, 12 May, 2017
Last update: 20/11/2017 | Top | Legal notice | Contact | Search