The French government last week announced it would grant young, innovative companies major relief from tax and other charges in order to encourage emerging technology companies to grow.

One of the prime movers behind the initiative says it means France will catch up with the rest of Europe in a few years. Philippe Pouletty, president of the Strategic Council for Innovation (a group of science, industry and investment leaders formed in June, 2002) told The Scientist: "We expect to close the gap between France, the UK and Germany within five to seven years. With respect to Europe versus the US, it's do-able within 10–15 years."

Pouletty is also president of France Biotech, a national association formed in 1997 to lobby the government for incentives needed by the biotech industry.

The changes include total exemption from capital gains taxes for "business angels" and shareholders, elimination of social costs paid...

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