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Home >Innovation, part of Lyon’s DNA

Innovation, part of Lyon’s DNA

Lyon, land of innovation

Over the centuries, many Lyonnais have made their mark in the history of science, art and creation: the Lumière brothers (inventors of cinema), André Ampère (for his achievements in Physics), and Claude Bernard & Marcel Mérieux (in the field of medicine). Lyon has always been a land of innovation and it continues to develop research centres and scientific clusters at the cutting edge of life sciences, green-tech and digital technology.


smart city in France



public and private laboratories



Because it is a dynamic city that embraces growth and innovation, Lyon rivals a number of other major European cities:

  • The number of patents registered; Lyon has the 2nd highest number of patents filed in France. Collaborations between companies and higher education & research establishments, as well as the total sum spent on research and development explain why!
  • Spending on research and development in the Rhône-Alpes region is comparable to that of Finland, Denmark, Madrid and Barcelona combined.
  • R&D: 5,6 billion euros were invested in the region in 2012 (12% of the national total).

Moreover, 5 international competitive clusters are located in Lyon.

Spotlight on an innovative project: the new Lyon-Confluence district               

Vue-Confluence-Lyon - © Photo B-Rob.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     © Photo B-Rob.com           
Among other flagship projects, the Confluence district is one of the most ambitious plans to extend a city centre in Europe! Designed over 150 hectares, the Lyon-Confluence project will double the size of the city centre by 2025, while adhering to the climate plan. The 1st phase, initiated in 2003, has now come to a close. Covering 41 hectares and representing 1165 billion euros of investment, it offers 400,000 sq. m of surface area, 250,000 sq. m of which is dedicated to tertiary activities and facilities.

Both a business and residential district, Lyon-Confluence has already attracted a number of investors who are seduced by its location between the Saône and Rhône rivers, the multiple transport modes that serve the area and its proximity to the historic centre.

The district’s attractiveness is reinforced by an exemplary approach to sustainable development, the quality of life it offers and architectural creativity. Renowned architects such as Jakob + Macfarlane designed the green and orange cubes, and COOP HIMMELB(L)AU designed the Musée des Confluences. In 2012, the Lyon-Confluence project entered its second phase. This phase will run until 2025 and includes the development of 35 further hectares.  

  • The first district to receive WWF approval in France 

Lyon’s new district was selected to host the Lyon Smart Community project until 2016.

This project is led by Greater Lyon and NEDO (Japanese agency supporting innovation) with over 30 partners (including Bouygues immobilier, Toshiba, Grand Lyon Habitat, Transdev, etc.). The goal is to spread the notion of energy performance across a territory. On the agenda: the construction of 12,000 sq. m of positive energy buildings designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and the implementation of a fleet of solar-powered electric vehicles. The installation of Smart meters will also make it possible to assess the energy consumption of 275 homes.

Lyon has also played a pioneering role in other innovations in the region, such as a city bike system to encourage citizens to adopt environmentally-friendly behaviour; Lyon’s Vélo'V, gave rise to the Parisian Vélib'. The soft modes tunnel to Croix-Rousse, which can be taken by pedestrians and cyclists, is another example. Moreover, a 24hr self-service car-sharing system is on the rise in Lyon foreshowing the transport modes of tomorrow’s city. More information at www.onlymoov.com.

Zoom on: the Lyon Gerland Biodistrict  

With 5,000 jobs in health and biotech, 30 public laboratories and over 2,750 researchers concentrated over one hundred hectares, the Lyon-Gerland Biodistrict was launched in 2014. This district is a hive of innovation that groups together higher education & research establishments, high level infrastructure, key industrial players and a growing number of SMEs specialised in human and animal health. At its head are world renowned companies: Sanofi, Mérial, Genzyme among others.

Lyon French Tech, France’s ‘Silicon Valley’

Lyon has been awarded the ‘Métropole French Tech’ label, thanks to an enterprising digital ecosystem (including some of France’s biggest players), an ambitious development strategy, motivated actors, operational programmes to serve the growth and visibility of start-ups, dedicated workspace and infrastructure to aid the development of these companies.

This label is the result of a strong collective effort within this digital ecosystem and by all of its actors and it proves that Lyon creates the right conditions for start-ups to develop and expand internationally through support programmes, infrastructure and networking. For more information visit www.lyonfrenchtech.com and the following website: Économique du Grand Lyon.