Snapshots of France’s innovation, investing and entrepreneurship

For the second consecutive year, France ranks third globally in innovation, based on data compiled for the 2016 Clarivate Analytics Top 100 Global Innovators report. French public-sector research organizations, CEA, CNRS and IFP Energies Nouvelles, joined Arkema, Saint-Gobain and Safran as perennial research standouts in the rankings since the report’s first edition in 2011.

Total S.A. debuted on the list in 2016, while Alstom made its second appearance. Thales and Valeo made the grade for the fourth time. France placed 10 companies and research organizations in both the 2015 and 2016 top 100 rankings, behind the US (35, 39) and Japan (40, 34).

Here’s the 2016 ranking:

US – 39%

Japan – 34%

France – 10%

Germany – 4%

Korea – 3%

Switzerland – 3%

The Netherlands – 2%

China – 1%

Finland – 1%

Ireland – 1%

Sweden – 1%

Taiwan – 1%

“Now in its sixth year, the 2016 Top 100 Global Innovators report reveals a prominent shift in strategy among the world’s top innovators. Notably, the volume of patents filed has decreased, while grant rates have increased,” writes David Brown, EVP of Clarivate, formerly Thomson Reuters.

“That trend, combined with a significant commitment to R&D spending, showcases an increased commitment to quality over quantity for commercializing new inventions… On average, the 2016 Top 100 Global Innovators invest 9.1 percent more in R&D than those in the S&P 100, underlining the importance they place on innovation.”

The rankings criteria are:

  • Volume: countries must have at least 100 unique inventions protected by a granted patent over the past five years.
  • Success: the ratio of patent applications to those that were granted
  • Globalization: the value organizations place on protecting inventions across major markets
  • Influence: how often the patents are cited in other patent applications

Of course, in small samples, small changes may exaggerate impacts. Between 2013 and 2014, France’s score slipped from 12 to seven. That could have seemed alarming as a percentage change.

Where’s the UK?

The UK, which last merited a mention in the 2011 report when it had one company listed, is conspicuous by its absence from the rankings. But UK researchers probably are more concerned about post-Brexit research funding than any contemporary comparisons.

Still, the UK retains bragging rights as a startup powerhouse, according to data on funding for new companies. La French Tech, a publicly and privately funded group dedicated to helping French startups prosper, reports that for the last half of 2015 and the first two quarters of 2016, UK startups raised significantly more money than their German and French counterparts. France trailed both countries in those four quarters, but had a strong showing in Q3 last year.

“In Q3’16, buoyed by a $279M deal to, total funding was 85% higher than that to Germany-based startups and only 7% behind the UK,” La French Tech notes.

“(French) deal flow has been trending up since 2012 and recently surged 71 percent over 2015 full-year for a 4-year high of 368 deals in just the first three quarters of 2016.”

In fact, investor enthusiasm for French entrepreneurial enterprises set an annual record in the first nine months of 2016: $1.5 billion. “Funding has generally been trending up since Q2’13,” the report says. “From Q2’16 to Q3’16, funding grew 200 percent to reach $857M in total funding over 145 deals.”

There are multiple ways to compare how nations stack up vs. one another for global economic, scientific and entrepreneurial prestige. Here is a World Economic Forum summary of country competitiveness.




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