Entrepreneurship in France: Lyon, a hub for entrepreneurs

Lyon hub for entrepreneurship

Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program spend their first semester studying entrepreneurship in France, before travelling to China and the US. With a reputation as the centre of entrepreneurship in France and ranked no.8 in the world for innovation,  what makes Lyon so entrepreneurial?

As France’s third largest city, Lyon is best known for its reputation as the capital of French gastronomy, its cultural legacy as a UNESCO World Heritage site and its incredible Fête des Lumières event, which attracts up to 2 million visitors per year. It’s reputation is now growing in entrepreneurship in France, with the city already a powerhouse in the banking, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries, with a strong infrastructure in education and research.

 1. Access to leading business incubators

The Rhone-Alpes region features many award-winning incubators to support new ventures. The EMLYON Incubator, created in 1984, has so far launched or taken over as many as 950 companies with an 90% 5 year survival rate, creating 11,000 direct jobs.  The Incubator is open to all startups in the wider Rhone-Alpes region and was ranked the leading French Business School Incubator by Enterprise magazine in 2012.

EMLYON Incubator

Similarly, the Crealys business incubator funds young entrepreneurs in Lyon who need support with research and academic projects and the Novacité innovation business centre for new companies has over 90% 5 year success rate. The Entrepreneurship Research Centre, located on the EMLYON and Ecole Centrale campuses, furthers the field of entrepreneurship in France with its research on five key topics: the innovative business start-up process, organisational entrepreneurship, teaching and assessing the effectiveness of entrepreneurship training programmes, assessing public policy covering business start-ups and takeovers and the processes behind fast-growing start-ups.

m_hillen et t_acherPrevious Global Entrepreneurship Program graduates have had support from incubators in the Rhone-Alpes region. For example, Morgane Hillen and Tifenn Acher recently launched their start-up – Achhill’s Gluten Free. The program graduates recently won the Pionnière award at the Startup Weekend in Lyon in April 2014, and are now part of the Incubator Pionnière, specialised in supporting female entrepreneurs.

2. Host of world-leading events in entrepreneurship

The World Entrepreneurship Forum is a world-leading entrepreneurship think tank founded in 2008 by EMLYON Business School and later joined by OnlyLyon, Nanyang Technological University, Action Community for Entrepreneurship and Zhejiang University. Bringing together a global network of over 250 entrepreneurs, NGO leaders, politicians and experts from 70 countries, the three day annual event aims to find solutions to the world’s most pressing issues by 2050, by placing entrepreneurs at the centre of wealth creation and social justice. Plus, the Entrepreneurs for the World prestigious awards recognise key individuals who have made a difference to society through their entrepreneurial ventures. The World Entrepreneurship Forum 2014 took place in Lyon with the theme of Entrepreneurship 3.0, Unlimited Opportunities – read more here

world entrepreneurship forum 2014

Further, there are events to support young aspiring entrepreneurs. For example, the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, a student movement linked to the World Entrepreneurship Forum, is a community of over 10,000 students and young entrepreneurs worldwide, dedicated to promoting and accelerating youth entrepreneurship. Since its launch in 2010, there have been hundreds of events across the globe.

EMLYON Business School also hosted the Startup Weekend and Startup Weekend Women’s Edition in 2014, the first women’s edition event in France.

3. Network of industry clusters

Lyon’s thriving economic activity revolves mainly around competitive industry clusters in biotech, cleantech, urban transport, digital entertainment and technical textiles.  Major brands such as Sanofi Pasteur, Lafarge, Atari, Renault Trucks, Rhodia and Group Seb have their headquarters in Lyon. The Lyon area is also home to the nation’s second largest digital hub with over 4,000 digital companies providing 34,000 jobs and 3.5 billion euros in sales.

The city’s entrepreneurial roots go back to the silk trade in the early 19th century and it now boasts 900 foreign-owned companies and 82 companies with over 1,000 employees. With 10,000 new businesses started in 2006 and local policies providing support to 20,000 new business projects every year, Lyon is significantly developing entrepreneurship in France, with a reputation as the country’s most enterprising city.

Develop your entrepreneurial mindset with the Global Entrepreneurship Program

If you would like to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and capabilities, study internationally and network with like-minded individuals, consider the Global Entrepreneurship Program.

Jointly run by EMLYON Business School (Europe), Zhejiang University’s School of Management and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management (USA) and combining the world’s best entrepreneurial teaching with three diverse global markets, this program will immerse yourself into a cultural experience far beyond pure academic studies as you will live and work with students from around the globe. On each continent you will work on a semester-long consulting project for a local company, reinforcing teamwork on a global level and helping you acquire practical experience and academic knowledge.

Discover the program here 

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