employees in the pharmaceutical sector in Dunkirk


Almost 300 million euros invested by the local bodies since 2016


public and private labs and scientific platforms in the territory


% of French engineers are educated in the Hauts-de-France region


Dunkirk, an innovative territory, has boasted know-how in the health and pharmaceutical sectors for many years now and is home to many big names in the industry.

Dunkirk enjoys:

  • An advantageous geographical location in the north of Europe.
  • Dense transport networks, particularly motorways which mean products can be delivered quickly.  
  • Recognised sector stakeholders who have set up business here along with numerous laboratories and researchers to form a propitious ecosystem.
  • The influence of the Haut-de-France’s health sector, particularly the two university hospitals (Amiens and Lille). The CHU de Lille (Lille University Hospital), just 30 minutes by high-speed train, is part of the densest in Europe. It is also ranked the 3rd best centre in France for clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry. Such proximity opens the door to prosperous partnerships.
Etudiante en pharmacie manipulant des médicaments


In the Dunkirk territory, technical training centres, day release courses and specific institutes also train future workers in logistics, security, non-destructive testing, the environment, maintenance…  essential skills for all sectors of activity!  

Dunkirk is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, that’s why we’re training young talent who can support this approach. Graduates from the two engineering schools specialising in energy engineering will be able to help you improve your carbon footprint and reduce your energy consumption.  

A large university city, Lille rounds off the offer and is home to the Ecole Nationale de Chimie de Lille (National Graduate School of Engineering Chemistry of Lille), which is just 30 minutes away by train.

These are two definite assets for any health sector or pharmacy industry business activity!


With more than 700 employees and major investments, the local pharmaceutical sector continues to grow. See below to discover three major companies in the sector!



The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca has been established in Dunkirk since 1990 and employs almost 500 people.  

  • The site is world number one for the production of inhaled drugs. It manufactures dry powder and aerosol products and exports them to around 40 countries.
  • In 2009, the group sold the chemical branch of its site to the neighbouring Minafin group (Minakem) to refocus on pharmaceutical production, i.e. aerosols for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Today, the site manufactures 33 million units of aerosols per year on its 8 formulation, assembly and packaging 99.9% are exported, a large part of which goes to the United States.
  • In a growing market, the group invested 135 million euros in Dunkirk between 2016 and 2019 in order to open two extra production lines and modernise production equipment. In 2021 and 2022, an investment of 141 million euros was also made, again with a view to increasing production and modernising the equipment.  

Why did Astrazeneca choose Dunkirk?  

  1. Its strategic location at the heart of Europe
  2. The Grand Port Maritime of Dunkirk 
  3. The proximity of extensive logistics areas
interieur usine minakem dunkerque


Minakem Dunkerque was founded in 2009 following the takeover of part of the AstraZeneca site in Petite-Synthe by the French fine chemicals group, Minafin.

  • Minakem then developed the generic market, increased its volumes and exported part of its production to the United States.
  • Minakem Dunkerque now works for the largest pharmaceutical labs in the world and exports 95% of its production.  
  • Minakem Dunkerque employs 243 workers.  

Why did Minakem set up in Dunkirk?  

“We took over the AstraZeneca Dunkerque chemistry unit because its equipment was remarkably complementary to our own units. We wanted to invest in the North area of France (…)” 

Click here to read the testimonial of Frédéric Gauchet, CEO of Minafin Group.



Founded in 1987, Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques Rodael are independent French pharmaceutical labs that manufacture non-sterile dry forms.  

It is a family company based in Bierne, not far from Dunkirk. The company boasts exceptional conditions to support its growth:

  • The site is located in close proximity to the A25 motorway, at the crossroads between Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Great Britain and Scandinavia.
  • They employ around 50 people.

Key points about Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques Rodael:

  • The lab can accommodate production for other stakeholders. From formulation to the finished product, in compliance with good manufacturing practices, thereby guaranteeing a high level of quality.
  • The modularity of their production equipment guarantees agility, flexibility and speedy execution. This means they can handle the production of small batches for clinical studies but also provide industrial production.
  • Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques Rodael’s capacity for innovation is a real asset that has helped them secure funding as part of the France Relance economic recovery plan.


Why choose Dunkirk?

Reason No. 1

Une localisation idéale en Europe du nord

Easy access to the markets of Northern Europe

Dunkirk has an excellent strategic location. Situated 49 km from the Channel Tunnel, 25 km from the Belgian border and 50 km from England, our territory is perfectly positioned to help you reach Europe’s largest markets with Paris, Brussels, London and Rotterdam just 3 hours away.

Reason No. 2


The Grand Port Maritime of Dunkirk, your gateway to the world

On the busiest shipping route in the world, the Port of Dunkirk boasts excellent nautical accessibility, with no tidal restraints or locks. Its infrastructures are adapted to accommodate the largest container ships operating on numerous shipping lines.

Reason No. 3

voie fluviale

A fully multimodal territory

Establishing your company in Dunkirk guarantees that you will benefit from a fluid and diverse range of transport infrastructures: roads, seas, rivers and railways give you complete multimodality and thus a lower carbon footprint.

Reason No. 4

Techniciens de Kubota qui soudent des cabines

A territory of industries with diversified sectors

A historical industrial basin, Dunkirk is home to many multinational companies but also high-performance SMEs with renowned expertise. While the steel, logistics, chemistry and energy sectors have made the territory famous, Dunkirk is now making a name for itself in cutting-edge fields such as pharmacy and green business.

Reason No. 5

aérienne de bâtiments industriels

A variety of competitive property listings

Whether you’re looking for a plot of land, a warehouse, business premises or an office, our team will provide you with solutions to fit your specifications, both sale and lease. The territory also has co-working spaces and a very high-speed network which means you can work remotely with complete peace of mind.

Reason No. 6

oyats avec en arrière plan des réacteurs nucléaires

Secure access to utilities

Thanks to a diversified energy supply and production, including a growing share of renewable energies, the territory is in a position to meet the energy demands of endogenous and exogenous industrial projects. To find out more about the supply networks, Dunkirk has developed a digital web that will help you to identify co-products which could be useful to you (heat, steam, aggregates, slag, mud, methanisable waste, etc.).

Reason No. 7

Laboratoires Rodael

An innovative territory committed to climate protection

The Dunkirk territory has made a long-term commitment to the well-being of its inhabitants. Decarbonisation of the industrial and port area, production of green hydrogen, digitalisation of processes, renewable energies, development of soft mobility… the territory spearheads projects that have been recognised and received major support from the State, through the Dunkirk, Creative Energy project.

Reason No. 8

Deux personnes se serrent la main dans une réunion

The guarantee of being able to recruit future employees

The territory of Dunkirk has 250,000 inhabitants and is part of one of the youngest and most populated regions in France. Because of the abundance of educational courses provided by local universities, vocational training schools and engineering schools, companies will encounter a pool of expertise here. The territory also provides recruitment and training support programmes.

Reason No. 9


A living environment combining the sea, countryside and the city

The Dunkirk Region is a moderately-sized territory. Close to both large cities and the coast, the Dunkirk basin benefits from all the assets of a large town where you can find the right balance between your personal and professional life. Its quality of life comes with the seal of approval of each of those who have taken the leap!

Reason No. 10

Equipe Dunkerque Promotion

Bespoke all round support for your project.

Our team provides advice in full confidentiality. Supported by the main local economic stakeholders, you can access our services for free: the quest for property solutions, financial aid, contact with appropriate partners, etc. Do not hesitate to contact us.


Why Dunkirk is the ideal territory to develop your business?

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