Rennes might not be on every association’s mind, but this is certainly due to change thanks to a few interesting infrastructure developments the capital of Britanny in France is currently undergoing. Building on these projects, Rennes has also emerged as a hub in a number of sectors, ranging from digital technology, health, agri-food, the environment and automated production, with a number of ground-breaking achievements attracting the attention of associations.
Only an hour and half from Paris by high-speed train, Rennes, the capital of Brittany, is situated at the heart of a dual carriageway network linking Brittany to the French capital and Normandy and to the areas south of the Loire divide. A vibrant yet quite relaxed city, Rennes is also the place to enjoy some Breton culture and medieval heritage. Pleasant parks and gardens, as well as a delightful old town with restored streets and squares, colourful traditional timber-framed houses, outstanding buildings by famous architects and one of the biggest outdoor markets in France, complete the picture.
On the academic side, with engineering schools (INSA Rennes, Bretagne Telecom, Centrale Supelec…), the European Graduate School of Art in Brittany, Sciences Po, a business school and two universities, Rennes attracts young people from around the world – there are about 66,000 students in the city. A hub of excellence with four of Brittany’s certified business clusters – the internationally renowned Images et Réseaux and Mer Bretagne clusters, as well as Valorial (foods for the future) and ID4car (the name is self-explanatory!) – Rennes boasts an interesting ecosystem that fuels high-level research and innovation.
Perhaps lesser known is the city’s excellence in cybersecurity, a field which might well embody Britanny’s leadership, and a government priority. Its vocation is to draw together the expertise from across the region, from an education, research and technology point of view, in all fields of technical expertise such as cryptology, micro-electronics, equipment, industrial systems, soft and hardware. The cluster works in close relation with the French Defence department, and training establishments like Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan are able to support it directly, while 75 leading businesses such as Thales or Orange work in the field as well. There are also SMEs delivering technological solutions covering the whole cyber security value chain, and 13 academic research teams working in cyber security, including seven working in cyberdefence, like IRISA, a joint research centre for informatics, or Lab-STICC, an IT lab, to name only but two.
Rennes has also been in the news lately with the brand-new Couvent des Jacobins Convention Centre (pictured). Boasting two auditoria for up to 1,000 people, 4,000 sqm of exhibition space and 25 meeting rooms, it is housed in a former convent, making it really one-of-a-kind. With 4,000 hotel rooms, 2,100 of which are in the city centre, a stone’s throw from the Couvent, Rennes might well be your next event destination.