Innovation: The Cornerstone of U.S. France Relations

US-France Cooperation


When we think about U.S. France relations we are reminded of a special relationship that has endured over the last two centuries, a relationship deeply rooted in shared history and culture, and aligned values and goals on many political, economic, and security issues. What we often tend to overlook is that innovation is the cornerstone of French-American partnership. Innovation, which drives economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship is a number one priority for both the United States and France, countries ranked among the top three leading innovators in the world by the 2013 Thompson Reuters’ Top 100 Global Innovators listing.

While the U.S. and France maintain a strong geopolitical alliance, there are opportunities for both countries to increase their mutual commitment to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship through investments in new technologies, research and development and scientific exchanges.  This was the primary focus of discussion at a working lunch of the U.S. France Leadership Dialogue in Paris on October 28, convened by Meridian International Center and Association France-Amériques, in association with the French-American Foundation and the French-American Cultural Foundation.

At the Dialogue, French and American cross-sector participants, including Governor James Blanchard, Chairman of Meridian International Center; Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President, Meridian International Center; Congressman Bart Gordon; Maxmillian Angerholzer III, Senior Advisor & Corporate Secretary, Richard Lounsbery Foundation, Alfred Siefer-Gaillardin, President, France-Amériques, Ambassador Jacques Andreani, President, U.S. Section, France-Amériques, Jean-Luc Allavena, President, French- American Foundation, France, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, JLD Conseil and Clara Gaymard, President and CEO, GE France, among others, examined how both countries can implement cooperative policies and strategies to encourage economic growth and deepen collaboration in several areas, such as energy, research and development (R&D), and higher education.

The dialogue topics included collaboration in the continued research and development of nuclear energy and shale gas, the shifting climate for entrepreneurship and innovation in both countries, and the critical importance of U.S.-France collaboration for the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The dialogue will continue in Paris in 2014 which will take a closer look at “energy” as an important case study. The U.S. and France have many unique successes and challenges in the energy sector, including timely issues such as nuclear power and shale gas. The Paris session will examine additional collaborative opportunities in policy, civil society, R&D, public-private partnerships that would strengthen both countries’ long-term prospects.

The U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue was launched by Meridian International Center in 2011 to create a sustained conversation among public and private sector leaders from both countries on key policy issues, and is structured around a series of forums held alternately in the United States and France. The primary purpose of this dialogue is to lay the groundwork for concrete bilateral initiatives to address shared economic and social challenges.

The U.S. has an enormously important and valuable relationship with France, a relationship marked by shared history on one side; and economic partnership and innovation on the other. Leveraging this relationship to enhance innovation will be key to driving economic growth in both countries and globally. The U.S. and France may learn from one another’s innovation policy successes and challenges, and examine where further alignment of specific projects in both the public and private sectors might lead to new ideas, better outcomes, and future growth.