Interview: Philippe Richert – President, Region Grand Est (Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine), France

Philippe Richert - President - Region Grand Est _ Stadler- Région Alsac...Philippe Richert, President of the newly created region Grand Est (Regions Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine) shares the significance of life sciences to his local economy, the industrial heritage which have made the region a leading exporter of pharmaceuticals, as well as the world-class innovation taking place there. Finally, he discusses the friendly-yet-competitive relations with neighboring regions in Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Could you please give our readers an overview of the Grand Est region’s importance to the French economy? The newly designed Grand Est region - which encompasses the former Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine regions - has expanded its sphere of activity and responsibilities, its scope of actions as well as its prerogatives. Needless to mention that our territory has significantly increased in size following the January 2016 merger; the Grand-Est region is today twice as large as Belgium and counts 5.5 million inhabitants – as much as Denmark or Finland. The Grand Est region is home to several historically significant cities. Strasbourg of course but also Nancy, Metz, Troyes, Reims and Mulhouse. [Featured_in] From an economic standpoint, its GDP exceeds EUR 150 billion (USD 165 billion) and our region’s economy is very much export-led. We export more than any other region in France. Our economy is very international due to our proximity with our neighbors: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. More than 30% of our companies’ capital is foreign owned. Among our region’s significant achievements, we are well known for our agricultural heritage and are France’s first agribusiness region. The Grand Est is both a rural and urban region and there are certain industrial fields in which our region excels such as aeronautic, pharmaceuticals, new technologies, and science research. Contrary to common belief, the Grand Est region is more industrialized than the rest of France. We are of course very successful in pharmaceuticals thanks to the very well regarded competitiveness clusters we hold. All in all, despite its low population, the region’s economic potential resides in our proximity to leading European business centers: Paris and its region to the West; Belgium and Luxembourg to the North; and Germany and Switzerland to the East. The Grand Est is at the crossroads. Your region has traditionally been a pharmaceutical hub. Lilly set up its flagship production site in Fergeisheim 45 years ago which is today the company’s largest manufacturing site globally; France’s largest pharmaceutical company Novartis established a bioproduction site here as well. How would you define the importance of life sciences and pharmaceuticals to your region’s economy? Our region’s economic strength relies on its industrial heritage combined with a very innovative mindset; we are an innovative region without a doubt. The small city of Chaumont for example has become an economic hub for stainless steel products and is home to the largest subsidiary of the German corporation Aesculap. Our region’s economy is still powered by pharmaceuticals but we are also developing new expertise in different sectors. Cities like Nogent have specialized in hip joint prosthesis for instance. I am very confident in the synergies between our former regions, Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine that now compose the Grand Est region. If you look at the University of Strasbourg which ranks in the top 100 on the Shanghai University Ranking, it had more partnerships with foreign universities than with French universities! The creation of this larger region has spurred new opportunities between Universities and research centers. These universities are catalyzing synergies in the fields of medical technology, medical imaging and E-health.
Our region’s economic strength relies on its industrial heritage combined with a very innovative mindset; we are an innovative region without a doubt
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