(Lyon, France) France is the world’s sixth largest economy and the most popular tourist destination in the world. The country is astonishingly beautiful and has a rich cultural history that continues to attract visitors from all over the world. But what does the country have to offer for ambitious American entrepreneurs eager to expand into the heart of the European economy?

While most have understandably heard of Paris, each city has its own unique appeal, particularly when it comes to doing business. Currently, at the top of the list is the city that Au’loni Magazine spent two weeks of exploring! Undoubtedly the best startup community in France, in particular, for American entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business to a more international scene.

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Lyon is the third largest city in France and is regularly ranked as one of the best places to live in Europe. Famed for its beauty and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lyon is renowned for its cuisine and is commonly referred to as the culinary capital of France.

Its entrepreneurial beginnings can be traced back to the silk trade in the 19th Century that laid the early foundations for the cities vibrant economy. To this day Lyon continues to attract businesses and in a report carried out by the magazine L’Expansion-L’Entreprise, it found Lyon as the number one “Business Friendly” city in France outside of Paris.

There’s an exciting startup community in Lyon with a number of award-winning incubators that have helped support the growth of these new ventures. The Novacité innovation business centre supports approximately 150 business projects a year and has over a 90% success rate.

One of the most interesting areas for startups in Lyon, isn’t actually in Lyon. The city of Grenoble is about an hour away and was viewed as a pioneering cluster for urban hipsters and entrepreneurs long before Silicon Valley.

The government has funded a number of schemes to bring academia, research and industry together resulting in world-renowned expertise in Micro and Nano-Technology. Grenoble is a community that’s committed to the long-term success of technological innovation and rather than creating the next Facebook, the area is most likely to produce the next IBM or Microsoft.


Facts about Lyon

  • The area of Lyon has the second largest digital hub in the country with over 4,000 digital companies
  • 900 foreign-owned companies
  • 82 headquarters and administrative offices for companies that have over 1,000 employees


  • Banking
  • Virology
  • Chemical environmental (clean & eco-technologies)
  • Urban transport
  • Digital entertainment: video games, cinema, audio-visual, animation, interactive multimedia
  • Technical textiles & flexible materials


Regular high-speed train links put it just two hours from Paris and its international airport makes Lyon a European air transport hub.

(By – Katya Puyraud)