France 2030 – The Future-Facing Investment Plan Accelerating French Research and Industry

In October 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the France 2030 investment plan, providing €54 billion in funding to support the development and progression of key French sectors of excellence, including healthcare, biotechnology, green energy, aerospace and culture.

Touching upon a number of key issues affecting France, Europe and the world, including the escalating threat of climate change and the risk of global pandemics such as COVID-19, Macron set out to underline how France intends to rise to the challenges of the coming decade. In the domain of research, the plan is set to have a distinct impact, with the large injection of funding enabling the undertaking of ambitious projects, often in collaboration with industry, to expand the limits of current knowledge and technology across all major disciplines. Three funders particularly implicated in the France 2030 plan are the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), ADEME and Bpifrance.

Each of these funders has been entrusted with significant funds to support a broad range of interdisciplinary projects, ensuring that new research techniques, methodologies and processes will be unearthed and providing an opportunity to see the emergence of a new generation of French researchers.

The main purpose of France 2030 is to prepare the future of the country. The plan is based on two main beliefs:

  • Reindustrialising the country is necessary for the country’s prosperity, economic sovereignty, and social and territorial balance.
  • Investing massively in disruptive innovation is a pressing need.

Following the COVID-19 health crisis, the French government recognised that it was necessary for France to reindustrialise and re-open factories. Throughout the crisis, supply shortages and tensions over certain materials illustrated the need to develop more resilient and localised industrial supply chains. Re-localising these types of industries in France would also create qualified jobs in medium-sized towns and rural areas. The government also recognised the need to reduce France’s dependence on other countries in the following sectors of excellence: aeronautics and space science, agri-food, luxury, and medicine.

The aim of France 2030 and the French government is not to make the country a leader in all areas and fields, but to get closer to the technological frontier, accelerate investment in critical sectors and support investments in other key sectors.

The plan focuses on producing better, living better and better understanding the world through major strategic investments. It aims to catch up on France’s delay in certain historical sectors and pull the country ahead in some areas by creating new industrial and technological sectors to support the ecological and digital transitions.

France 2030 sets 10 objectives, which revolve around three challenges: produce better, live better and better understand the world.

  • Produce better:
    • Develop small, innovative nuclear reactors in France, with better waste management.
    • Become the leader in green hydrogen and renewable energies.
    • Decarbonise France’s industrial sector.
    • Manufacture around two million electric and hybrid vehicles each year.
    • Manufacture the first low-carbon aircraft.
  • Live better:
    • Invest in healthy, sustainable and traceable food.
    • Manufacture 20 biopharmaceuticals for cancer and chronic diseases, including those related to age, and create the medical devices of tomorrow.
    • Position France back at the forefront of cultural and creative content production.
  • Better understand:
    • Take part in the space adventure.
    • Invest in exploring the deep sea.

As of October 2022, a year following the launch of the France 2030 plan, more than €8.4 billion has been invested in the transition of all sectors. For instance, €65.8 million has been invested in the electronic and robotics sectors, €64 million in decarbonisation and hydrogen, and €31.8 million in culture. Furthermore, the plan has supported over 1,300 projects, of which 304 were from public establishments (including universities) and 146 from research organisations.

A key aspect of the France 2030 plan is heavy investment in key research funders. Through this investment, projects will be supported that each address at least one of the plan’s central objectives.

One of the key research funders is ANR, which has launched several initiatives within the framework of this plan. One such initiative is the Programmes et équipements prioritaires de recherche (PEPR – Priority Research Programmes and Equipment). Through this programme, ANR makes use of France 2030 funding to promote innovative basic research divided into two broad types.

One type, allocated funding of €2 billion, concerns national acceleration strategies, which supports the transformation of industries such as decarbonised hydrogen, quantum technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security and technologies of the future. An example of calls proposed of this type include PREZODE, aimed at preventing zoonotic disease emergence. This call, aligned with the Health Innovation section of the France 2030 plan, supports the exploration of how human changes affect the emergence of zoonotic disease, a particularly pertinent topic following the COVID-19 crisis and the ever-present threat of future zoonotic illnesses linked to rising global temperatures and habitat changes.

Another type, referred to as exploratory PEPRs, supports frontier research projects on transformative ideas or processes that are on the precipice of emerging. A total of €1 billion has been set aside for projects of this type. An example of an exploratory PEPR is OneWater, a multidisciplinary call on the theme of water as a common good, implicating essential questions linked to the health of the environment, socioeconomic challenges and human development. Beyond the PEPRs, ANR is also funding the establishment of Bioclusters in France through France 2030 funding, providing the opportunity for collaboration between research and industry to transform biomedical research on French territory, directly supporting Objective 7 of the plan. A notable beneficiary of the Bioclusters call is the Paris Saclay Cancer Cluster, which has received funding of up to €100 million to support the realisation of industrial projects and the development of startups relating to advanced oncology research.

An example of a France 2030 ANR programme that is currently accepting applications is PEPR DIADEM, a call that aims to rapidly accelerate the development and industrialisation of innovative, sustainable new materials with applications across a range of industries. Letters of Intent for this programme are open for submission until 15 June 2023.

Another key funder implicated in the plan is ADEME, an organisation set up to combat climate change and support the ecological transition. This funder represents a significant weapon in the arsenal of the French Government to help achieve its climate ambitions. This can be seen in the calls funded through the France 2030 programme. For example, an upcoming call concerning the logging sector, entitled Efficient Logging and Silviculture, seeks out projects that harness collective solutions to improve the structure and performance of the sector. The intended outcome is to improve the industry on both an environmental and an economic level, thereby ensuring that the sector can thrive in a healthy and sustainable manner in the future. The final deadline for this call is 8 September 2023.

A final key funder worth mentioning is Bpifrance, France’s public investment bank. The bank has been provided with €550 million in funding to support industrialisation projects. This funding enables Bpifrance to launch calls for proposals on an array of topics in diverse fields such as agriculture, medicine and astronomical science. A current call for proposals supported by Bpifrance concerns innovation in medical imaging. The call hopes to develop a sector of excellence in imaging in France, in line with France 2030’s stated objectives in digital healthcare. To achieve this aim, the call places a notable emphasis on collaboration, promoting the increasingly popular academic notion of interdisciplinarity, with teams from disparate fields encouraged to work together towards a single aim. The next deadline for this call falls on 26 September 2023.

Ambitions for 2023

In November 2022, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced that France 2030 will fund nearly €20 billion in projects by the end of 2023 while maintaining a high level of requirements and selectivity. Half of the projects selected will continue to focus on the ecological transition and the development of France Nation Verte.

To meet this ambition, the Prime Minister highlighted the necessity to continue accelerating technological projects in order to enable French researchers to be ever more innovative. With a target of 500 startups resulting from research created each year by researchers and an increased budget of around €500 million, the Prime Minister announced that France 2030 will support the creation of technological startups and the promotion of research.

In addition, certain projects will receive increased support. Breakthrough innovation projects will receive further support as €5 billion of the €54 billion has been reserved to support these projects.

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