France Biotech calls for stimulus plan
France’s biotech industry association has called on the country’s government to revise its decision to cut the OSEO budget by 50% (EUR320m). The tax-paid innovation agency supports small and medium-sized companies. In spite of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's reassurances on January 22nd, the French government has halved its support for innovative start-up companies for 2009. France Biotech argued that the industry currently already has access to too little funding. According to the organisation, investments in French biotechs had already dropped nearly 80% between 2007 and 2008 (down from EUR694m to EUR143m) In addition, says the association, venture capital investments in private companies fell by 27% to EUR132m.
France Biotech Chairman Philippe Pouletty said that "in order to underpin the optimism of our entrepreneurs, we must adopt an aggressive stimulus plan for young, innovative companies." Pouletty has therefore asked the government to reverse the decision and return OSEO’s funding to last year's level, and says that amount should be tripled in 2010. The association has also called on the government to extend the fiscal status of so-called "young innovative companies". Currently, research-oriented SMEs get tax exemptions for the first 8 years after being founded. France Biotech wants to extend that period to 15 years. The organisation also asked for a reform of the French credit law in order to distribute research tax credits more equitably between SMEs and multinationals, and wants 50% of the government's Strategic Investment Fund (FSI) to be given to innovative French SMEs to enable them to acquire undervalued foreign companies and technologies.