As France’s 5th industrial region, Bretagne has always been prominent on the nation’s maritime and military scene. This is truer today than ever before since the region is making significant headway in the leading hi-tech sectors, drawing on the businesses that make it a key player in defending France’s sovereignty.

The Pôle d’excellence cyber (cyber cluster) exemplifies Bretagne’s leadership in cyber security which has become a government priority.

The cluster was officially launched at the beginning of February 2014 by defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as part of the Government’s wider cyber defence strategy. Bretagne Regional Council is also backing the development of a cyber security industry which comes under the Government’s economic recovery package for the region. The ability to defend against and counter cyber attacks, and to identify their authors has now become a sovereignty issue beyond the actual defence sector itself.

The cyber cluster’s vocation is to draw together the expertise from across the region. This refers to skills from education, research and technology, but also from economic development. The Pôle d’excellence cyber has had its research and technology budget tripled in order to provide greater support to SMEs and research laboratories in this field. In the Rennes area, training establishmentsSaint-Cyr Coëtquidan and ETRS, along with the DGA information management division are able to support the cluster directly.

The fields of technical expertise relating to cyber security: cryptology, micro-electronics, architecture for security equipment and for IT and industrial systems, analysis of soft and hardware etc…

The MEITO network has identified around 75 businesses working in cyber security in the region today: leaders such as Thales, Orange Labs, Cap Gemini,Alcatel Lucent, Sopra Group

There are also SMEs delivering technological solutions covering the whole cyber security value chain. 13 academic research teams working in cyber security including 7 in particular that work in cyberdefence (IRISA, Lab-STICC,IRMAR, IETR, etc.)

The cluster can draw on the availability of high-level courses (Université de Rennes 1, Telecom Bretagne, INSA Rennes, ENSIBS, IUT de Bretagne,ENSSAT, etc.)

The first Chair in cyber defence and cyber security

Saint-Cyr Sogeti Thales was inaugurated in July 2012. Its ambition is to anticipate cyber threats by combining skills from the military and civil sectors. Two further Chairs have been founded, one at Ecole Naval (naval sector) and the other at Supélec (research on vulnerability)

  • An on-line directory has been introduced which lists the businesses and organisations from the digital sector working on defence applications. It is available at:
  • DGA (government defence procurement agency), Marine Nationale (French Navy)
  • 2 large groups – Thales and DCNS
  • 383 businesses (50% services and research, 50% industry)
  • The Pôle National d’Excellence Cyber (national cyber area)
  • 7 innovation clusters
  • 11 grandes écoles and university establishments
  • 7 resource centres, platforms and technical centres
  • 47 research teams

The industry can rely on a wealth of technological and human potential for its future development. Furthermore, a vibrant and structured network is in place ready to take on the strategic challenges facing France.

A network of businesses serving defence requirements

A network of over 383 regional businesses operates in the Defence and Security sectors, with most of these companies covering both civil and military markets. Among these, two major industrial contractors can be pointed out:

  • DCNS – a leader in naval defence. The Group is recognised worldwide for its exceptional know-how in designing, building and servicing surface combatants and submarines. It also develops solutions in civil nuclear engineering and marine renewable energy.
  • Thales – a world leader in high-tech solutions for aerospace, transportation, defence and security markets. With a staff of 65,000 including 2000 based in Bretagne, Thales’ unique capabilities allow it to design and deploy equipment, systems, and services to meet even the most complex security requirements.

(The most prominent customer with regard to the defence technological and industrial base is the French state’s defence procurement agency, DGA. Its mission is to oversee major defence programmes, prepare defence systems for the future and to promote arms exports. In Bretagne, DGA has two divisions, one near Rennes specialising in information management, and the other in Brest, focussing on naval capabilities.)

Leading military sites

Most of Bretagne’s prominent military sites are located in three districts: Rennes, Lorient and Brest.

  • Brest: this military district is the largest in France and covers defence responsibilities between the Mont-Saint-Michel on the north coast, down to the Spanish border. The Port of Brest is France’s largest port on the Atlantic coast and home to around a quarter of the country’s naval fleet. This naval base serves as a both a maintenance port and a port of call for nuclear powered vessels. The FOST (strategic oceanic force), France’s main nuclear force component is based in Brest. There is a ballistic submarine base located at Ille Longue, on the Crozon penisula slightly away from the main port. The naval air station at Lanvéoc-Poulmic is a specialised centre for helicopter over-flight and maritime operations. The Landivisiau naval air station operates in a support capacity for the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and is where the carrier aircraft are stationed.
  • Lorient: this district includes the Lann-Bihoué naval air station, and Fumaco (marine commandos).
  • Rennes: this district is home to the 11e régiment d’artillerie de marine (11th Marine Artillery Regiment) based in St Aubin du Cormier near Rennes, (the most modern artillery and intelligence in the French armed forces), the 2e régiment du matériel (responsible for maintaining operational capability), DGA information management division, and the DGA combined services infrastructure and information systems division.
  • The 3e régiment d’infanterie de marine, based in Vannes, is part of ground forces command. Its missions are mainly focused on overseas territories and central Europe.


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