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Unprecedented Growth: 2023 Marks a Historic Surge in Nordic Investments, Cementing France as a Premier Business Hub

With 102 projects generating 2,016 jobs in 2023, the Nordics set a new record in choosing France to fulfil their ambitions. Thanks to a stable business climate reinforced by government measures, France excels at retaining its investors and attracting new ones. 

Confidence is growing among the Nordics, benefiting the French labour market

For the fifth year in a row, France is the most attractive country for FDI, ahead of the UK and Germany, according to EY attractiveness survey. In 2023, Business France identified 1,815 international investment decisions resulting in the creation or maintenance of 59,254 jobs over the next three years. Europe plays a prominent role, responsible for 65% of global investment decisions. Led by Denmark, the Nordic region set a new all-time record with 102 projects. 

Up 5% compared to 2022, the number of Nordic investment decisions has never been so high. Nordic investments will create or maintain over 2,000 jobs in the next three years. Thanks to reforms implemented since 2017, including production tax reduction, subsidies and tax credits, the country created a more supportive framework for businesses.  

Read more: A guide to navigate France’s most significant business-friendly reforms

France is a much-appreciated destination for Nordic investors, which is reflected by the number of creation and greenfield projects. In 2023, they represented 66% of Nordic investments, highlighting the growing attractivity of France and its assets: a qualified and available workforce, a stable legal and regulatory environment, competitive infrastructures and a strong internal market. Extension projects, which account for nearly 1/3 of Nordic investments, are proof of renewed confidence after a positive first experience in France. They represent investors’ satisfaction after a concrete experience in which they have been able to measure the benefits.

Unsurprisingly, Ile de France attracted the largest number of Nordic investment decisions, 23%. Still, the Centre Val de Loire Region attracted the investment projects with the biggest number of jobs created or maintained, 446. Hauts-De-France came second in the number of projects, and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes came third.

Denmark: the first Nordic investor in France

For the third year running, Denmark is the leading Nordic investor in France thanks to 50 investment projects. For the first time, Danish investment has generated the most jobs ahead of Sweden. With 988 jobs created or maintained, up 5% compared to 2022, Denmark accounts for nearly half the total number of jobs generated by Nordic investments. 

Denmark’s results are largely driven by the opening of numerous retail stores in France in 2023. As a result, 72% of investment decisions are retail outlets, with manufacturing activities coming 2nd (14%) and decision-making centres 3rd (8%). The health sector is well represented by historic actors such as Novo Nordisk. The Danish pharmaceutical company announced a €2.1 billion investment to expand its production site in Chartres, creating 500 jobs. The site’s surface will be doubled, and new technology equipment will enable the production of medical devices while minimising the environmental footprint of production activities, particularly in terms of water consumption.

Industry at the heart of Swedish investments in France

The historic leader of Nordic investments in France, Sweden, is second in 2023, with 27 investment projects generating 616 jobs. Swedish major players, such as AB SKF, IKEA, Volvo, or Evroc, are among those who chose France for their next investment project.

Almost half (48%) of the investment projects from Sweden are related to production and industry, which directly help France´s reindustrialisation in line with France 2030’s objective. Alfa Laval has recently launched a new production lined dedicated to printed circuit heat exchanger in Isère. Like many other projects, it supports the environmental transition, particularly the energy transition with hydrogen-related applications. Swedish investors also recognise France’s innovative ecosystem, as 19% of investments are R&D projects.

Norway invests in green solutions 

In 2023, 16 investment projects came from Norway, aiming to create or maintain 231 jobs in the next three years, accounting for 16% of projects and 11% of employment from the Nordics.

Norwegian companies’ objectives align with those of France. At the heart of the investment plan France 2030, is the environmental transition and the decarbonisation of our economy. The investment decision of Hydrolift Smart-City Ferries (Hyke), a zero-emission waterborne mobility startup, is a perfect example. It aims to reduce pollution and congestion by developing a network of autonomous electric ferries for mobility and last-mile logistics. This initiative reflects Norway’s ambitions and aligns with France’s will to create low-carbon mobilities. This approach is also part of the partnership signed between France and Norway in January 2024 by The Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway, Jan Christian Vestre, focusing on renewable energies.   

Finnish investments in 2023 grew by 40% in France

With seven projects generating 161 jobs in 2023, Finland has the highest number of jobs on average by project. Thanks to these investment decisions, the country tripled the number of jobs created compared to 2022 (49 jobs). Among these projects, IQM chose to invest in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region to develop further quantum technologies with new R&D facilities.  

85% of Finnish investment decisions in France were creation project highlighting that France is increasingly attractive as a business destination. According to EY attractiveness survey which interviewed 500 international executives at the beginning of 2024, France is the most attractive European country for international investments, with 34% in favour.

Nordics investments embody France 2030’s vision 

23% of Nordic investments are linked to manufacturing activities, coming 2nd by the number of projects but 1st by the number of jobs generated, 752. Reindustrialisation is an essential part of France’s plan to increase its competitiveness. Through the €54billion investment plan, the country offers foreign investors the opportunity to be a driving force in expanding priority sectors, including health, energy, automotive, and aerospace. 

Read more: France 2030: building on your side the France of tomorrow

In these sectors and beyond, France has also chosen to promote initiatives to decarbonise and reduce energy consumption. France can count on the Nordic countries as powerful allies in the fight against climate change and in achieving an environmental transition. Pioneers in developing sustainable solutions, Nordics’ commitments extend beyond their borders and match the ambitions of the Green Nation plan launched by France. By investing in priority sectors, Nordic investments align with the ambitions set out in the France 2030 strategy.

By fostering industrialisation, research, innovation, and training, France 2030 offers companies a real opportunity to support France’s ambitions of building a more sustainable, resilient, and competitive society over the long term. France’s determination to remain attractive is ongoing and is reflected in a number of calls for projects and investments that are sending out encouraging signals to investors.