Medical imaging is an extremely open and dynamic sector in France, thanks to government initiatives which have attracted inward investment: the French in vivo medical-imaging market is estimated to be worth about €800 million, in a global market that was valued at €20 billion in 2010. Ground-breaking partnerships are being set up between France’s clusters of excellence and international businesses: more than 650 non-French companies belong to one of France’s 71 innovation clusters in medical imaging and related fields.
The market for medical imaging comprises three different segments: traditional imaging techniques (radiography and ultrasound), which account for 59% of the market; endoscopy, which accounts for 19%; and, finally, the ‘large instrument segment’ (CT, MRI and PET scanners), which makes up the remaining 22%.
Recently, many global companies in the sector have invested in the French market, including Philips, General Electric Healthcare, Siemens Medical Solutions, Toshiba, Hitachi, Agfa Healthcare, Bioptics, Digirad and MITA. Their production facilities and research centres in France account for two-thirds of all revenues in the sector and almost 80% of all exports.
Medical imaging benefits from the research capacities of hospitals and other medical environments. This is an area where France has well-established services and prestigious players such as NeuroSpin, the neuroimaging centre at CEA (France’s Atomic Energy Commission); Mircen (the molecular imaging research centre); hospitals such as Broussais and Pitié-Salpêtrière (in Paris); and, finally, centres of excellence within various R&D institutions, including INRIA (the National Institute for Research in Computer Science & Control), INRA (the National Institute for Agricultural Research), INSERM (the National Institute for Health & Medical Research) and CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research).
Ground-breaking partnerships are being set up between France’s clusters of excellence and international businesses. In total, over 650 foreign companies belong to one of France’s 71 innovation clusters.
The following hi-tech clusters are working examples of ecosystems that attract investment to their host regions and assist businesses: Atlanpole Biothérapies (Pays-de-la-Loire) and Images et Réseaux (Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire) in Western France; Cancer-Bio-Santé (Midi-Pyrénées) and Alpha-Route des lasers (Aquitaine) in South-Western France; Minalogic, Optitec and Lyonbiopôle (in Rhône-Alpes) and Eurobiomed (in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur) in South-Eastern France; Alsace BioValley (Alsace) in Eastern France; Elopsys (Limousin) in Central France; and, finally, Medicen Paris Region, Cap Digital Paris Region and Systematic, in Ile-de-France (i.e. Paris and its region).
This trend is reinforced by the existence of generous tax incentives to support innovation development, in the form of France’s Research Tax Credit, along with the National Investment Policy launched by the French government.
Under this investment policy, programmes dedicated to health and biotechnologies, managed by the ANR (France’s National Research Agency), have been awarded a budget of €1.55 billion. This initiative is set to boost research in France by encouraging partnerships between companies and public-sector research bodies. It will also amplify the economic effects of recent advances that have been achieved in post-genomic technologies, while facilitating the faster acquisition of biological data.
The sector’s main businesses can also count on the expertise and capacity for innovation of a large number of French SMEs, which have successfully developed specialist or niche strategies. For example, SuperSonic Imagine, based in Aix-en-Provence (in South-Eastern France), is the only company in the world to offer a multi-wave imaging device for use in cancer treatment.
Another example is Guerbet, headquartered in Villepinte (near Paris) and one of the major players in the market for contrast agents — substances used to enhance the contrast of structures of fluids in the body, in medical imaging — which boasts 25% market share in Europe.
As the examples given here demonstrate, biological imaging is developing rapidly in France. The sector comprises three main areas. The first segment is the functional imaging of the brain: it seeks to improve the mapping of brain functions, which helps to better understand development abnormalities and dysfunction in the brain.
The second segment is radiobiology: it is used in the fight against cancer, where research is being developed in partnership with CEA, which has unparalleled expertise in ionizing radiation and equipment.
The third area is telemedicine: it helps to monitor the health of patients remotely — using remote monitoring, remote consultation and telecommunications — thus supporting improved life expectancy and preventing loss of independence among patients.
About Invest in France Agency
Invest in France Agency (IFA) is France’s national agency responsible for promoting and facilitating international investment in France. IFA also co-ordinates a range of initiatives in order to promote France’s economic attractiveness and stimulate inward investment.
The IFA network operates worldwide, with offices within France as well as in North and South America, in Europe, in the Middle East, and in the rest of Asia. In France, IFA works in partnership with regional development agencies to offer international investors outstanding business opportunities and customised services.
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