Fearful that it may be falling too far behind the U.K. and Germany in the biotech stakes, French politicians and industrialists have announced plans they believe will fuel the creation of entrepreneurial companies. However, while government and industry may now be playing the same tune, there is the danger they are not in the same key.

France's leftist government plans to divert public research funds from huge companies in order to help establish innovative small companies. With one eye on France's high unemployment - officially 3.5 million or about 12.5 percent - Claude Allegre, the French minister of national education, research and technology, last week announced that the government wants to provide support to young post-docs to help them set up new businesses.