SME Clusters in Engineering in France

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By Elma Emir, Researcher and Business Development Manager

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have long been an integral part of the French economy, accounting for 99.2% of all businesses and 60.5% of all employment in the country. However, the role of SMEs in France has shifted in recent years, with the emergence of digital technologies and the increasing importance of engineering and technology-related industries. This article looks at the growth of SME clusters in engineering in France and how they are driving innovation and growth in the economy.

According to a 2017 report conducted by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, there are more than 10,000 SMEs in the engineering clusters in France. The same report found that the engineering SMEs in France employed approximately 1.2 million people at that time.

France’s Growing Engineering Sector

France has a long history of engineering and technology-related industries, with some of the world’s most iconic companies, such as Airbus, Renault, and Schneider Electric, being headquartered in the country. In recent years, France has seen an increase in the number of engineering-related businesses, with the number of companies in the industry increasing by 7.2% between 2017 and 2019. This growth has been largely driven by the emergence of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, as well as the increasing importance of engineering in the global economy.

In 2018, the number of SMEs in the engineering clusters in France had increased by 11.5%, with a growth rate of 10% being reported in the same year. Additionally, the value of exports from French engineering SMEs in 2018 was reported to be €17.1 billion, representing a 7.5% increase from the previous year. According to a survey conducted by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance in 2018, SMEs in the engineering clusters in France accounted for 43% of total employment in the technology industry.

SME Clusters Driving Innovation

The growth of engineering-related businesses in France has been mirrored by the emergence of SME clusters in the sector. These clusters are growing in number and size, and are driving innovation in the industry. The clusters are made up of small and medium-sized businesses that work together to develop new products and services, as well as to share resources, such as research and development facilities. This has enabled the businesses to be more agile and innovative, allowing them to respond quickly to market demands and to bring new products and services to the market more quickly.

Benefits of SME Clusters

The emergence of SME clusters in engineering in France has had a number of benefits for the economy. The clusters have enabled businesses to be more competitive, as they can share resources and scale up quickly. The clusters have also enabled businesses to access new markets and to develop new products and services. This has led to an increase in exports and an increase in jobs. The clusters have also helped to foster innovation and creativity, as businesses are able to exchange ideas and collaborate on new projects.

The Future of SME Clusters

SME clusters in engineering in France are likely to continue to grow in the coming years, as digital technologies and the global economy become increasingly important. The clusters are likely to provide opportunities for businesses to develop new products and services, to access new markets, and to foster innovation and creativity. The clusters are also likely to be a key driver of economic growth in France in the future, as they help to create jobs and increase exports.

Watch our video to learn more about the importance of SME clusters in engineering in France:


  1. “SME clusters in engineering in France”, CREA:
  2. “SME Growth in the Technology Industry”, OECD:
  3. “The Impact of Clusters on SME Performance”, Small Business Economics:
  4. “Cluster Development and SME Growth in France”, International Journal of Business and Economics:
  5. “Cluster Strategies in France: Successes and Challenges”, Regional Studies:

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