The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has identified the 10 most promising technology trends to help deliver sustainable growth in the decades to come, as global population and material demands on the environment continue to grow rapidly. The Global Agenda Council considers that these technologies – which can be categorized under nano- and bio-technologies, environmental sciences, health and energy – have made significant development breakthroughs and are nearing large-scale deployment.
With such promising technologies that could revolutionize the world in the near future, France is at the cutting edge as the second leading country in Europe – and fourth in the world – for the number of patents granted in 2012, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). France’s continued investment and commitment to research have helped make it an attractive location for the 588 foreign-owned firms that are already members of France’s 71 innovation clusters.
The fact that 40% of France’s scientific output is produced through international research partnerships only further highlights the country’s openness and global outlook which, when combined with best practices and government incentives, provide an ideal environment for innovation, as shown by the three following case studies:
Fourth-generation nuclear reactors and nuclear-waste recycling
Despite its non-descript name, ASTRID is a most promising fourth-generation nuclear reactor, due to be operational by 2020. This landmark research program is being led by the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), and has been part financed by the French government as well as numerous French suppliers, including Bouygues Construction, Areva, Alstom and EDF. With a projected output of 600 MW and an unparalleled safety record, ASTRID represents a major advance on its predecessor Superphoenix.
Organic electronics and photovoltaics
ISORG, a French start-up founded in 2010, has already become a pioneer in the field of organic electronics, developing innovative technology that transforms glass and plastic into smart surfaces that can interact with their external environment.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion and use
The French National Research Agency, in partnership with Areva, EDF, Air Liquide, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the CEA, is currently developing project “VITESSE²”, which seeks to convert CO2 emitted by the cement, steel and incinerating industries into methanol (MeOH).
As investments in research and development continue to flourish, the recent unveiling by Oséo, part of France’s new Public Investment Bank, of two new research-tax-credit and innovation-loan schemes will only serve to further foster innovation in France, and may yet provide a boost to the emerging technologies identified by the World Economic Forum.