Lyon is the real heart of the French business world
France is now Ireland’s closest neighbor in the European Union and its market provides the ideal environment for Irish investors – in terms of size, influx of investment and competitive landscape.
he country boasts of the presence of large indigenous companies in multiple sectors as well as a large number of decision-making centers for multinational companies, which are very much aligned with Irish capabilities.
For the second year in a row, France is the leading European destination for foreign direct investment with 23 major new projects announced every week throughout 2020.
These opportunities are in addition to the huge investment envelope of 100 billion euros made available by the French government for post-Covid economic recovery to be spent in areas such as sustainability, infrastructure and digital transformation.
It represents an important and dynamic market on our doorstep, and our relationship with the French has always been healthy and filled with mutual respect, so there is a huge field of action.
However, while people often think of Paris when considering doing business in France, Lyon is considered the most “ business-friendly ” city here.
It has a fantastic geographical position, being bordered by both Switzerland and Italy, and is served by a highly developed infrastructure for air, rail, road and river transport.
In addition, the region has many similarities to Ireland including its size, industrial ecosystem and many SMEs are also family businesses.
The fact that several Irish companies have already established businesses in this area is indicative of the potential of the region – and some of the Irish players who have a substantial presence in the region include Life Scientific, Amarenco, Kingspan, Icon, Smurfit Kappa, Grant Engineering and Tricel.
Second economic region of the country, Lyon is the cradle of life sciences in France and is home to some of the biggest names in the industry such as Sanofi Pasteur; Boehringer Ingleheim; Medtronic and BioMérieux.
It is also the world’s leading vaccine production center and is recognized as a reference region for immunology, infectious diseases, diagnostics and veterinary health.
Being one of the most important cleantech development regions in Europe, it allocates more money to renewable energies than any other region in France, making it a place of great business opportunity to test innovative environmental solutions. in terms of energy transition and efficiency, future and circular mobility. economy.
In addition, it is the leading industrial region in France with strong players in metallurgy, chemicals, automotive, plastics and precision mechanics and there is a dense network of industrial companies, SMEs and start-ups. -up innovative.
Of course, the pandemic has had an impact, which can be seen in the dramatic drop in GDP of 8.3%, the largest ever measured here.
But if 320,000 jobs have been lost, this figure is considerably lower than the 600,000 job losses that were predicted last year and is the result of the massive adoption of the short-time working measures put in place as well as the much stronger performance. economy. in the last quarter of 2020.
Overall, French purchasing power has not suffered from the pandemic and, in fact, the French have saved an additional 111 billion euros compared to 2019.
There is therefore hope on the horizon and I encourage Irish companies to seriously consider the French market as a territory offering great opportunities for those who want to develop their export sales.
The ‘Irish friendly’ environment, which is very prevalent here, should be taken advantage of.
If you are planning to do business in France, invest time in research as the French market requires investment up front, and it may take time to take hold, but once in you will find a favorable and loyal business environment. .
However, don’t underestimate the need to be formal at the start of a business relationship and try to speak some French, even a basic “ Bonjour ” – and when speaking in English, be careful. to speak clearly, simply, and slowly to get your message across. Good luck.
Claire Mercier Tobin, is responsible for the Lyon office of Enterprise Ireland and Senior Market Adviser within the organization.
This Friday May 28 At 8 a.m., Enterprise Ireland and the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) will host the first in a series of virtual webinars that will explore untapped opportunities for Irish businesses in Europe.
The webinar series, titled ‘Europe is our future – the untapped potential of the single market for Irish businesses’, will focus on the growth opportunities for Irish businesses in Europe and on reaping the benefits of the largest free agreement -exchange to the world.
Registration is available at: