Operating across France for over a century
Thales is a major player in the French high-tech industry, employing 34,000 people at 70 sites in seven regions: Paris, Central France, Pays de la Loire, Brittany, Southwest France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) and Rhône-Alpes.

Our locations

Brief history

Thales, formerly Thomson-CSF, was founded in 1968 through the merger of the professional electronics businesses of Thomson-Brandt with Compagnie Générale de Télégraphie Sans Fil (CSF). The two companies already had a long history. Thomson-Brandt dates back to 1893, when Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston was formed to exploit the patents of the US Thomson-Houston Electric Corp. in the emerging market for power generation and transmission. CSF was established in 1918 and became a pioneer in broadcasting.

R&D in France

Innovation is the key to Thales’s future and underpins the three pillars of our strategic vision: growth, performance and people. Research is a wellspring of innovation for Thales. It drives our ability to anticipate the requirements of our customers and work with them as partners to build the innovative solutions they need and expect. The Palaiseau establishment is one of five major Thales research centres and a pioneer of the company’s open innovation approach. Located on the campus of the École Polytechnique — one of the country’s most prestigious engineering schools — the Palaiseau corporate laboratory forms part of a complex of world-class research establishments just south of Paris. As well as 350 permanent staff members, 80 doctoral students and more than 100 scientists from partner research institutes work at the Palaiseau establishment. The Alcatel Thales III-V Lab dedicated to III-V semiconductor technologies is also part of this unique ecosystem.
The corporate laboratory serves four key objectives:
  • Capitalise on skills and lessons learned to meet the needs of the aerospace, defence and security industries and their long programme cycles
  • Build scientific partnerships with leading research institutions at international level
  • Define technology strategy in close collaboration with Thales units based on analysis of operational requirements
  • Enable technology insertion to maintain the company’s technical and technological leadership
Key figures:
  • €707 million invested in self-funded R&D in 2015
  • Over 22,000 researchers and engineers (one-third of the Thales workforce)
  • 3,000 researchers dedicated to R&T
  • R&D centres in 18 countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia
  • Five joint laboratories with universities in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Singapore and Canada
  • Over 30 partnership agreements with universities and public research centres in Europe, the United States and Asia

Partnering smaller businesses and start-ups

To increase its competitiveness worldwide and benefit from every opportunity for innovation, Thales is committed to partnership with small- and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs are key to Thales’s success as an innovator, and almost 500 are currently involved in our R&D activities in France.
Thales is acutely aware of the need to work with smaller businesses and innovative start-ups to remain competitive in global markets.
Thales was one of the first recipients of France’s official certification for responsible supplier relations, awarded by the French association of purchasers and purchasing managers (CDAF) and renewed in 2016. High-quality supplier relations and an active involvement in the SME Pact, which aims to promote synergies between SMEs and major customers, are both part of a proactive policy of support for smaller companies and start-ups that Thales has pursued consistently for many years. Other initiatives include:
  • Wide-ranging involvement of small businesses and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 75% of Thales’s purchasing spend in France
  • Proactive deployment of best practices with these suppliers
Thales engages with suppliers through the SME Pact supplier survey, which provides key indicators and metrics on the quality of customer-supplier relations, payment terms and other issues. The Group is committed to constructive dialogue with suppliers in order to build strong, long-term relationships and support the development of their businesses.

Breakdown of Thales employees in France

employees in Paris region
employees in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region
employees in Brittany
in the Central France region
employees in the Southwest
in Rhône-Alpes
employees in Pays de la Loire
total headcount
researchers dedicated to R&T

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