Hub and spoke? Life sciences in Northern France


It seems an unlikely place for innovation, but Lille and its surroundings play host to a burgeoning life sciences industry. LSIPR visited to find out more.

The French biotech and life sciences industry is, if not necessarily booming, more than pulling its weight in a tough economic climate. In the teeth of the worst crisis in living memory, France finds itself playing host to some of Europe’s most innovative companies in the sector, driven by clusters of research and development across the country.

One of the largest of these clusters is in the Lille Nord-Pas de Calais region. Its genesis is a mix of geographical accident and strategic design, but today it plays host to more than 800 companies involved in the biotech sector, employing more than 22,000 people.

Geographically, it makes sense. Lille is extremely well served by transport links, making it easy to do business whether you’re from London or Berlin. Indeed, Nord France Invest, which aims to attract business to the region, trumpets the fact that the city lies almost in the middle of six European capitals. And it’s no coincidence that Lille has a Eurostar station, the first city stop in continental Europe for those arriving from London. The local government and industry lobbied hard to ensure that happened.

Life sciences, biotech, Northern France, Lille, Eurasanté