Lille European Metropolis, where business matters

Lille European Metropolis, a premium location to execute your expansion strategy in The European Union

Ideally located at the crossroads of North-West Europe, Lille European Metropolis sits at the centre of the wealthiest consumer pool in Europe, gathering 80 million citizens and a GDP of 1,500 €Bn within a 300 kms radius.

The metropolis’ proximity to the key decision-making centres of the European Union (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg), combined to a consequent transport infrastructure (2 High Speed Train stations – 25 M passengers/y.) and its vibrant economy make Lille European Metropolis a preferred location for foreign investors.

Indeed, Lille European Metropolis ranks in the top 3 regions in France for foreign direct investments, where 88% of the 1,850 foreign businesses would recommend the region for setting up a new operation (source: KPMG 2014).

Historically a major trade hub, Lille European Metropolis nowadays has the highest concentration rate of exporting companies amongst French metropolises.

Last, with 43.5% of its 1.2M population under age 30, Lille offers a talented and loyal labour pool.


With an exceptional train hub with 2 TGV railway stations (25 M passengers/y.) Lille European Metropolis has connections to major business cities:

  • Lille - London: 1h20m by Eurostar (with the time difference 20 minutes)
  • Lille - Paris: 1h (26 shuttles daily)
  • Lille - Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport: 0h50m
  • Lille - Brussels: 0h38m
  • Lille - Amsterdam: 2h
  • Lille - Cologne: 2h45m
  • Lille - Frankfurt: 4h
  • Lille - Strasbourg: 3h30m


70 domestic and international flight destinations served by the Lille-Lesquin Airport (1.8 M passengers in 2016)

  • Barcelona: 2h10m (from Lille-Lesquin)
  • Milan: 1h45m (from Lille-Lesquin)
  • Geneva: 1h20m (from Lille-Lesquin)
  • Vienna: 2h (from Paris CDG – 6 direct flights daily)
  • New York: 9h (from Paris CDG)


500 kms of linking roads and motorways

  • Paris: 2h15m
  • Brussels: 1h20m
  • Amsterdam: 3h
  • Cologne: 3h15m

World-class public transportation

169 million passengers make use of Lille’s public transportation network each year:

  • Two underground lines
  • Two tramway lines
  • An extensive bus network
  • A self-service bicycle hire programme (10,000 bicycles)

A vibrant and diverse economy

  • 64,000 companies
  • 80% of large French corporations are based in Lille,
  • 1st region for French family groups that have become well-known worldwide: Lesaffre, Damart, Décathlon, Auchan, Boulangeries Paul, Roquette, Leroy Merlin…
  • Lille has a concentration of headquarters 17% higher than the average of other French metropolises

Major business sectors include

  • Retail & ecommerce: 90 headquarters of national and international retail companies (Auchan, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin, Norauto, Midas, Boulanger, Kiabi…) employing more than 700,000 people globally. The whole retail value chain is in Lille!
  • Business services: with more than 15,000 companies and almost 60,000 jobs, the metropolis aims at being a leading region for innovation in the legal, insurance and finance sectors, while serving as a perfect location for shared services and outsourcing operations. Recent successes include, BPCE Group, Admiral Group, Hoist Finance, Natixis, Verisure...
  • Tech & IT: in 2016, the sector gathered 3,600 companies employing 35,000 people. Lille is a start-up destination where projects meet investors (over 80M€ funds raised in 2016). Companies: Ingram Micro, OVH, Atos, CGI, IBM Client Innovation Centre…
  • Health, pharma & biotech: being one of the most advanced healthcare ecosystems in European Union, Lille hosts 1,000 companies 29,000 jobs and 2,200 researchers. Companies include. Genfit, EFS, LFB, Diagast, AstraZeneca, GSK Vaccines, Bayer Healthcare, Giphar, Merck, Lesaffre, Roquette Frères…
  • Food industry. With 8 out the 15 world-leading agrofood businesses (Bonduelle, Greenyard, Mc Cain, Nestlé, Coca-Cola…), the region accounts for 10% of total employees in France.

A good cost location

On average, operating costs in the region are 15% less expensive than its European competitors. Prime office space rents are up to 50% less expensive compared to main French and European locations (17% for industry premises, 28% for logistics).

A full project support

Lille’s agency is a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to foreign direct investments and location project management, financed by Lille European Metropolis and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Basically, local authorities have committed money through the agency to facilitate and accelerate the launch of your new operations, ensuring their long-term viability.

Based on a proven track record of set ups of international companies (180 set ups for 6,500 jobs over 2011-2016), our team will make you benefit from their high level of expertise in location management project:

  • Project design and planning,
  • Project management in the fields of: business development, real estate, staff hiring and training, talent relocation services, finance, partnerships, acquisitions targeting, admin & legal…

A major French Tech hub

Innovation is at the heart of the local economy. Major fields and sites are:

  • Euratechnologies, IT
  • Blanchemaille, ecommerce
  • Eurasanté, Biotech & Health
  • Up-tex (technical textiles) – European Centre for Innovative Textiles
  • Picom, retail cluster

Research & development

  • 10,000 people work in R&D
  • €783 million spent on in-house R&D,
  • 4,600 researchers and faculty

Major labs

  • CEA Tech – innovation for industry
  • Inria – computational sciences
  • Inra – French National Institute for Agricultural Research
  • SILAB – Shopping Innovation LAB
  • CITC – IoT cluster
  • Pasteur Institute of Lille
  • ONERA – National Office for Aerospace Studies & Research

Higher education

With over 100,000 students – including 11,000 international students – spread throughout 4,300 establishments (public and private), Lille is the 2nd largest university hub in France.
Lille European Metropolis has 3 business schools amongst FT’s European Business Schools 2016 ranking (Edhec – 14, Skema – 57, Ieseg – 59), and counts over 30 prestigious schools of higher education.

Local opportunities

  • Commercial Real Estate Read more
  • Business ecosystem Read more
  • Legal & tax services Read more
  • Public funding & incentives Read more
  • Setting up facilitation Read more

By using our investor support service, you will confidentially and within 48 hours, receive comprehensive information on each item needed to set up your project in France.