Ile-de-France proves popular with foreign entrepreneurs (July 2011)
The number of foreign businesses establishing bases in Ile-de-France broke all records in 2010. The infrastructure offered by the Paris region, which concentrates the core of the country’s economic activities, is attracting foreign investors from near and far. A trend that is set to continue into the future.
Ile-de-France: the forecourt of the La Défense business district in the western suburbs of Paris © MAEE / F. de La Mure
Ile-de-France remains a very attractive economic centre for investors from many countries and its popularity is growing steadily. It is France’s premier region for the establishment of foreign companies, and Europe’s second, after London. The number of business start-ups, expansions and renewals in the region reached 243 in 2010, a higher figure than had ever been achieved in any of the ten previous years, showing a 27% increase on 2009. This is equivalent to five new businesses a week, one for every working day!
Foreign groups in Ile-de-France represent a total of 17,400 companies and 700,000 jobs. It is estimated that those arriving in 2010 will generate 8,415 job vacancies over three years, almost all of which will be filled by local recruitment. Around 55% of these jobs originate in the United States, Ireland and Japan. The Irish company Accenture plc, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, will alone create 1,000 jobs. The Japanese company Fast Retailing Co., Ltd, an industrial textile, clothing and accessories producer, will create several hundred, as will the American technology services group CSC, which has just established its decision-making centre here.
“The projects as a whole are on a more modest scale, reflecting investor caution in the face of a difficult world economic situation,” explains Denis Tersen, Director General of the Paris Ile-de-France Regional Development Agency, a body associated with the regional council. But this caution is compensated for by the variety, innovative quality, and forward-looking nature of the sectors represented, headed by business-to-business services, information and communication technology companies, and computer services offering new software products. The field of renewable energy is becoming very important. We have, for instance, seen the arrival of the Chinese group Ecota, which specialises in 100% biodegradable products, or Belgian companies Lampiris and Electrawinds, suppliers of green energy. Clothing and retail remain great job creators. Projects in the financial services industry have increased, reflecting the significance of Ile-de-France as a European financial centre.
Another major phenomenon is the significant increase in investment in research and innovation: “The active involvement of players in the sector, the State and the regional and local authorities, in promoting the creation of world-class competitiveness clusters is of great interest to major foreign partners who have access here to outstanding public research centres, and excellent researchers and engineers,” points out Denis Tersen. For instance, the Italian Sorin Group, one of the leaders in the field of cardiovascular diseases, has opened its centre of excellence at Clamart in Hauts-de-Seine, a 12,000 sq. m. facility bringing together all its research and production forces to create a global showcase. And the Americans, who are returning in force, are bringing in around 60 projects, especially in the high-tech fields. Google and Microsoft have also expanded their bases here.
The United States is the principal investor this year, alongside the United Kingdom, whose investments have risen 42%. Germany, although it has 20 companies, has fallen behind China. The rapid development of China, with Taiwan and Hong Kong, followed by Korea and then India, has been spectacular: “These countries develop their economies at home first, they then export and finally they set up abroad,” explains Denis Tersen. “This internationalisation strategy, which reflects a high level of maturity, is set to continue. Tomorrow, the other Asian countries and Latin America, with Brazil in particular, will do the same. This is the beginning of a very large-scale movement.”
The future therefore seems guaranteed. In the first few months of this year, 168 projects have already been attracted by the advantages offered by Ile-de-France, beginning with the diversity of its industries. While foreign investors primarily choose the capital itself, there are companies which opt for specialist départements: Yvelines or Val-d’Oise for the automobile industry; the scientific valley of Bièvre in Val-de-Marnefor research and innovation; while those requiring logistical platforms set up near Roissy. The transport infrastructure connects them to the French, European and world markets, and this is attractive not only to distant countries, but also to the Europeans, the British, the Belgians and the Dutch, who are even establishing their decision-making centres here. You are in the centre of the world when you are in Paris! We must stress however that, according to the French Agency for International Investment, 12 other regions have grown in 2010. We are seeing a shared dynamic and the influence of Ile-de-France is not eclipsing the rest of France.
Source: Actualité en France n° 20, juillet 2011
- Useful links
- Invest in France Agency
- The Quai d’Orsay/Entreprise project