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In September 2013, the president of France, François Hollande, announced the launch of the New Industrial France. With support from the National Council for Industry, the initiative called for 34 individual plans uniting public sector corporate groups with small and medium enterprises to address important issues in energy production, transportation, healthcare, and digital technology.
Each of the 34 projects outlined by President Hollande called for one or several “project leaders” from the industrial world, and I've been fortunate to serve as the co-lead of the Medical Devices and New Health Equipment plan with André-Michel Ballester, the CEO of Sorin Group. We clearly have an opportunity to revive the industrial field of medical technologies in France, 94% of which is composed of small or very small companies. Moreover, we have the support of InnoTechMed, an association that unites French medtechs and promotes innovation to reinforce the French industry's competitivity.
France has (almost) all the ingredients necessary for a great medical technology industry, including excellent physicians and surgeons, world class health facilities, exceptional engineering schools and universities, and a tradition in medical innovation. And medical devices are the meeting point of many areas experiencing tremendous progress in France, most notably projects related to big data, digital hospitals, innovative textiles, and connected objects.
There are many synergies between medical devices and other industrial plans in France.
However, numbers show that we are far behind other countries including Germany and the U.S. in terms of patents, jobs and wealth creation. For instance, in France we currently have 900 medical device companies representing 50,000 jobs, while the U.S. has around 6,000 companies with 450,000 jobs. Germany’s medical device industry generates €6 billion for its commercial balance while France has a commercial deficit of about €700 million. German medical technology companies have secured about 58,000 device patents, and in France we’ve secured just about 8,000. We can do better!
Moving forward we might consider the creation of Medtech cities and an annual general conference on medical device technology. We should continue to fund and support innovation accelerators and foster consolidation around leaders and collaboration between larger companies and startups. With these steps, together we can continue to transform French market access. We have a tremendous opportunity to recreate an ecosystem in which startups can thrive in the development of new medical devices and health equipment.