Vincent Mangematin, Stéphane Lemarié, and David Catherine
Université Pierre Mendès, Grenoble, France

European policy to promote small- and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) creation seems to be successful in France, judging by the high rate of new business formation. Yet French firms remain very small compared to United States (US) firms, employing less than 40 employees on average, as opposed to 140 in the US. This prompts the question of their future. Are all biotechnology SMEs destined to expand, disappear or be bought out? Or is there a place for small businesses that cater to a particular market niche? This paper argues that agbiotech SMEs do have a specific trajectory that will allow them to continue to exist, at least in the medium term. However, they will continue to have a low potential for growth because (1) they are older and more mature than other biotech SMEs and yet remain small; and (2) they currently face a difficult venture capital market because of the uncertainty surrounding investment in agbiotech within Europe.

Key words: Small and medium sized enterprise; SMEs; France; growth.