Global Opportunities

Cleantech in France: opportunities for Swiss companies

France is the third most attractive country in the world for the development of renewable energies, according to Business France. Switzerland’s neighbouring country is therefore offering great business opportunities within the Cleantech sectors.


After China and the United States, France is the third most attractive country in the world for the development of renewable energies. The equity financing of French Cleantech companies jumped by more than 60% in 2018 to reach 1.54 billion euros, representing the sum of the collections made through all sources of financing (private equity, business angels, industrials, crowdfunding, stock market, etc.) and means a number of 114 operations.

Main actors in the French cleantech sector

France has the assets to play a major role in this green revolution. Beginning with a legislative structure favorable to Cleantech companies. Under the influence of the French Presidency of the Cop 21 (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), French regulations are at the forefront of Europe. In 2015, the energy law for green growth formalized several strong commitments: a 32% share of renewable energies in 2030, the simplification of construction authorizations for wind and photovoltaic farms, and the possibility for communities to support green projects, halving the amount of waste going to landfill by 2025, etc.

Support program for young cleantech companies

Several institutions also support this underlying dynamic, for example, Cleantech Open France, the largest support program for young French companies in the sector. At the heart of a network of 600 startups and more than 60 partners, the structure identifies the best startups, supports them operationally and makes them participate in worldwide events. The program’s earliest winners are important companies such as BlaBlaCar or Actility. Last December, Cleantech Open France was a partner of the One Planet Summit, organized at Station F. (Start-up Campus in Paris), in which some thirty startups presented innovative ecological solutions. Another example is the Innov'éco Award, which stands out as the "clean tech hub of innovation". This initiative rewards projects several times a year and provides participating start-ups with a space to establish contacts and share their practices.

Major investments were made in renewable energies, eco-mobility, energy efficiency and Agricultural Technology

The renewable energy sector represents half of the operation, i.e. 769 million euros raised, including 450 million by Neoen, the developer and producer of renewable energies when it was introduced on the Euronext Paris market. Eco-mobility is in second place, thanks to BlaBlaCar. The carpool leader has managed a new raise of more than 100 million euros. In third place, the energy efficiency carried by companies active in reconditioning smartphones such as Recommerce (€ 50 million) and Back Market (€ 41 million).

Among the emerging sectors: Agtech

The Agricultural Technology (AgTech) is among the emerging sectors, it has known a great success with 93 million euros collected via eight operations. This sector should remain very dynamic, in early 2019 the start-up Ynsect has collected 110 million euros to industrialize the breeding and processing of insects for animal feed.

Citizens are also increasingly numerous to finance the ecological transition. They contributed 52 million euros to the environment and renewable energies sector in 2018. Beyond equity investment in companies, crowd founders are particularly interested in financing renewable projects via platforms such as Lendosphère, Lendopolis, Lumo or Wiseed.

The different sectors

  • Bioenergy
  • The onshore wind
  • Offshore wind
  • Photovoltaic solar
  • Hydropower
  • Renewable marine energies
  • Bio fuels
  • Geothermal energy and heat pumps
  • Eco mobility
  • AgTech
  • Water management
  • Waste management

Examples of Cleantech projects in France

  • Vichy bets on the solar: The Vichy agglomeration launched in January 2019 an invitation to solar projects on the ground, on 25 to 30 hectares spread over three sites and to be built in under two to three years.
  • Amiens expands and turns green its heat network: The municipality of Amiens began the work of extending its heat network. Objective: 50% renewable energy.
  • The Hautes-Alpes deploy a network of charging stations for electric vehicles: The networks of charging stations for electric vehicles unfurl over in the big cities, but the rural departments are also involved. The syndicate of Hauts-Alpes installs 80 charging stations. This departmental network is anchored in a larger-scale network called "e-born" which has 700 charging stations.
  • Occitanie is waiting for its floating wind farms: The European Commission has approved public financial aid for four parks. The region, which wants to triple its production of renewable energy to become a territory with positive energy in 2050, relies heavily on floating wind.

How to take advantage of these opportunities?

The Swiss Business Hub France is responsible for implementing Swiss export strategies. As Cleantech industry is generally driven by public initiative, the Swiss Business Hub France can organize an information session on how to participate in a public tender. It aims to organize a business trip for Swiss companies that would like to position themselves on the Cleantech market in France.