France occupies the fourth rank in the world for all R&D expenditure (whether by companies or the State) but its relative position is fragile, the total R&D investment being lower than that of its major foreign competitors, and the gap tending to widen.

Key figures

Industrial research in Europe, the United States and Japan in 2005

In particular, it should be noted that the share of R&D investment achieved by French companies out of all R&D investments in France, amounting to 52%, is appreciably lower than in other foreign countries. In this same trend, the number of researchers in France is proportionally lower compared to the United States and Japan.

One of the symptoms of the French lag with regard to R&D investment is the low recourse to the filing of patents in France. This is an indicator of the insufficient innovative capacity in France, which is depriving itself of a major competitiveness instrument. This proves that French companies have not sufficiently understood that patents, like trade marks, are an economic intelligence weapon, an effective tool for protecting inventions and technical innovations.

Several factors may have caused this French lag: IP culture little developed in higher education, misinformation for researchers with regard to IP, etc.

In the context of the Lisbon strategy and the Barcelona objectives, which are to reach, for the European Union, 3% of GDP for R&D expenditure in 2010, including 2% for companies, France has deployed several measures for achieving this objective, including the setting up of a fiscal encouragement measure intended to promote an increase in research investment for companies: the R&D tax credit.

The CNCPI has issued several proposals to deal with the French lag in R&D: reinforcement of the IP culture and training of students, researchers and entrepreneurs with regard to research, teaching materials for researchers on the advantages of IP (quality of patent filing and enhancement following filing),



         Country   Amount invested  % of total invested in
 research in the word
United States    123.595 M of Euros              38%
Europe    113.497 M of Euros              34%
- of which France      19.645 M of Euros  
- of which Germany      38.859 M of Euros  
- of which UK      15.613 M of Euros  
Japan      71.655 M of Euros              22%



 Internal R&D expenditure – including internal research expenditure by companies – in 2003 and 2004 


              2003            2004
Internal research and
development expenditure
34.6 billion Euros 35.6 billion Euros
Internal research
expenditure executed
by companies (IREEC)
21.6 billion Euros 22.4 billion Euros

R&D data in Europe and internationally

After a strong increase during the 90s, IGERO has fallen since 2002. In 2003, this represented 62.6% of GERD: it is lower in France than in the main industrialised companies: USA 63.1%; Japan 74.5%; Germany 66.1%.

Questions and answers

How to reinforce the IP culture among researchers in France ?
There exists a great deal of misinformation among researchers with regard to IP. They are not sufficiently made aware and active on this subject. It is not a problem of quantity of filing of patents but rather quality and exploitation following filing. In order better to inform researchers, the following strategy could be set up:

  • providing teaching on what IP really costs and especially its advantages;
  • promoting synergies between public laboratories, private research centres and production units.

What actions could be implemented to improve France’s performance with regard to innovation ?
Many actions can be envisaged for making France’s position more “high-performance” with regard to innovation. The objective being to encourage researchers to patent, and to encourage companies to develop and exploit their R&D, it is necessary in particular to rethink support actions at companies (working on the R&D tax credit, etc.) and the training of researchers. It is necessary to promote IP in the research world.

And with regard to training ?
The IP culture is little developed in higher training. It is necessary to give more training IP matters, both with regard to engineering degree courses and in business economics courses. Thus it would be desirable to integrate IP modules in school / university programs.