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Factsheet for measure FR-2004-1/2453 – measures in France

Poles of competitiveness

Pole de compétitivité

Country France , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2004
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Matching/networking
Author Frédéric Turlan (IRshare) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 01 April 2023)

Background information

The Poles of competitiveness policy was initiated in 2004 to mobilise the key factors of competitiveness, the most important of which is the capacity for innovation, and to develop growth and employment in buoyant markets.

A Pole of competitiveness brings together small and large companies, research laboratories and training establishments in a clearly identified area and on a targeted theme. The national and regional public authorities are closely involved in this dynamic.

Poles of competitiveness or clusters operate in delimited geographic areas. The pole can be either regional or interregional. They are active in most activity sectors, including emerging technologies (for example, nanotechnology, biotechnology, ecotechnology) as well as more established sectors (for example, automotive and aerospace).

Content of measure

French competitiveness poles or clusters promote the development of collaborative projects in research and development (R&D) that are particularly innovative. They also support the development and growth of their member companies thanks to the marketing of new products, services or processes resulting from research projects. To this end, they bring together large and small firms, research labs, specialised suppliers, educational and training providers, working in partnership in a particular field and in a specific region or territory. Public bodies (at local, regional or national level) are also associated to the poles. Competitiveness poles are recognised by the French government and defined in the 2005 Finance Law (loi n°2004-1484).

Linking industrial policy with research and innovation policies, they are formed to reinforce the competitiveness of the territory and the enterprises belonging to the pole, encourage innovation and stimulate the creation of new businesses in the area. Certain skills and competencies are sought out, and efforts are made to match training courses with skills required by companies.

The competitiveness poles are funded by the Inter-ministerial Unique Fund (Fonds Unique Interministériel), which is a financial programme funded by several ministries and managed by the public investment bank BPIfrance . Other public funding is dedicated to the governance structures of the poles, which is mainly funded by the state. They also benefit from the support of public entities such as the National Agency for Research ( Agence Nationale de la Recherche ) or BPIfrance, and various other measures such as tax exemptions. Regions are also a significant provider of funds for the projects developed by competitiveness poles.

Use of measure

In 2019, the government labelled 48 competitiveness clusters for the period 2019-2022. Eight other clusters got only a provisional label for one year (2019 to 2020) as they did not fully comply with the selection criteria. This represents a decrease in the number of clusters compared to previous years/phases, in line with the government will to rationalise the tool and make it more efficient. In 2018,  there were 67 competitiveness clusters and 71 in 2016, but prior to 2019, the decrease could be explained by the legal reform of the number of administrative regions since 1 January 2016 (from 26 regions to 18).

According to an evaluation carried out by France Stratégie (2020), public policy in favour of competitiveness clusters has positive effects on companies, networks and territories. The study notes that the framework of phase IV of the Poles of competitiveness, which began in 2019, results in a reconfiguration of the cluster landscape. In order to become more efficient, its ambition is to aim for a better articulation of national and regional public policies in favour of innovation and competitiveness by relying on networks of local actors. Its ambition is also to carry out more projects on a European scale by making better use of the "Horizon 2020" framework programme and its successor "Horizon Europe" for the period 2021-2027.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Local / regional government
Local funds
National funds
Regional funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


No involvement

Views and reactions



  • 30 December 2004: Law n°2004-1484 of 30 December 2004 (
  • 15 June 2012: BearingPoint France SAS, Erdyn and Technopolis Group-ITD (2012), Etude portant sur l’évaluation des pôles de compétitivité (Evaluation of the competitiveness poles) (
  • 05 November 2012: Gallois, L. (2012), Report on the competitiveness of the French industry, Commissariat Général à l’Investissement (
  • 01 February 2017: Ben Hassine, H., Mathieu, C. (2017), Evaluation de la politique des pôles de compétitivité : la fin d'une malédiction ? (
  • 01 April 2018: Eurofound (2018), Employment effects of public innovation support measures, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (
  • 20 August 2020: France Stratégie : Les pôles de compétitivité : quels résultats depuis 2005 ? (
  • 29 November 2022: Official leaflet on French competitiveness poles (


Eurofound (2022), Poles of competitiveness, measure FR-2004-1/2453 (measures in France), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.