PARIS ¿ A study on the French biotechnology industry by the Lyon office of Ernst & Young International reveals that it has been nudged into third place in Europe by its German counterpart in terms of turnover and employment.

France¿s 240 biotech companies employ 4,500 people and have an annual turnover of EUR757 million (US$659 million), while in Germany there are 340 companies employing 10,700 people with a total turnover of EUR786 million. The United Kingdom remains well in the lead. Although the UK can boast no more than 280 biotechnology companies, they employ some 18,400 people and earn annual revenues of EUR2.1 billion.

The number of French biotech companies has doubled over the past four years, but two-thirds of them employ fewer than 20 people. On the other hand, the author of the study, Philippe Grand, points out that the industry successfully completed some 30 funding rounds in 2000, raising a total of EUR240 million. He also said French start-ups have a good chance of survival: ¿Although it is too early to have accurate statistics about the life expectancy of start-ups, we can already say that two-thirds of them will survive.¿

Ernst & Young attributes the upsurge in the German biotechnology industry to generous public-sector funding advanced by both the central government and the regions. In response to this situation, the French government is expected shortly to unveil a series of measures to enhance the commercial exploitation of the country¿s research effort and its contribution to the national economy.

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