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Panorama survey of French life sciences

Eighth annual France Biotech survey reveals that the French life science industry is a key strategic player

The eighth annual France Biotech survey, Panorama 2008/2009, reveals that the French life science industry has emerged strongly from the global economic crisis as a key strategic player and that the world biotech market offers an increasingly attractive new model for the pharma industry.

The survey revealed that the French life science industry is maturing and has survived the crisis well. In 2009, 11 products were on the market and 84 were in clinical development (including 10 in phase III and four in the registration phase). The 20 per cent increase in the number of clinical phase products (up from 55 in 2008 to 66 in 2009 (taking into account only the 54 companies surveyed both this year and last year) confirms the development of the country's portfolio of life science companies.

The crisis over the last two years strongly reduced investment in the life science industry. The total amount of new venture capital investment fell from €151m in 2008 to €65m in 2009. The total amount of seed funding fell, but the number of transactions remained stable (18 in 2008 and 17 in 2009), emphasising continuing investor interest in the life science sector. In contrast, the value of second and third round financing fell strongly, down from €115m in 2008 to €43m in 2009.

In 2008, the total turnover of the 170 life science companies that replied to the survey was €194.2m. The R&D spend was €981m and the net operating loss was €239m. Looking only at the companies surveyed this year and last year, it is noteworthy that overall turnover increased just two per cent between 2007 and 2008, as opposed to 67 per cent between 2006 and 2008.

R&D investment increased 42 per cent (36 per cent between 2007 and 2008 and 40 per cent between 2005 and 2006). These figures underline a relative slowing of the increase in turnover (reflecting the impact of the economic crisis), whereas R&D investment efforts continued, notably thanks to public sector policies and funding in favour of research.

Globally, the life science industry continued to grow, with the US maintaining its market leading position, but there were clear signs of a slowdown. Biotech firms are emerging fast and are responsible for over half of the innovative drugs in development.

This change is explained by this industry's growing innovation capacity and the Next Biotech Index, created in April 2008, which enables investors and other financial stakeholders to monitor the sector's performance.

14th April 2010

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