Franco-Scottish links in research, innovation and higher education

Overview of Franco-Scottish higher education and research partnerships including analysis and recommendations for furthering collaboration between France and Scotland.

Annex 4: French public research institutes profiles

Founded in 1939, multidisciplinary research organisation with over 30,000 staff. It has a presence in most universities and maintains over 1100 research units in France and abroad. Its scientific teams are split in 10 Institutes (similar to UKRI's research committees) organised around disciplines: biological sciences; chemistry; ecology and environment; humanities and social sciences; engineering and system sciences; mathematical sciences and their interactions; physics; information sciences and technologies; nuclear and particle physics; earth sciences and astronomy.

The CNRS is a major player in international science, with 60% of its publications involving at least one foreign laboratory. The top 3 partners are the US, Germany and the UK. The organisation has set up structure cooperation mechanisms, including 80 international research laboratories located within partner universities (in the UK, the only ones currently active are at the Imperial College London and the Maison Francaise d'Oxford).

Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission, accounting for 14% of public research funding. Founded in 1945, it employs 16.000 staff around 4 missions: defense; nuclear energy; technological research for industry; basic research. It operates 9 centres in France and participates in the 5 national alliances. Welcomes 800 foreign scientists and engineers per year to fulfil its international policy and research agenda.

National geological service, working on applications of earth sciences, management of resources and risks on and below the earth's surface. Founded in 1959, its network of 28 regional offices employs 700 engineers and researchers. Active in higher education through ENAG, the national school of geoscience applications.

Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development, working to promote sustainable agriculture adapted to climate change. It was founded in 1984 and employs 1,650 staff including 800 researchers in 30 research unites and 13 regional directories. The organisation supports agricultural development in countries of the global South and is organised in 3 departments: biological systems; performance of production and systems; environment and society. It collaborates directly with over 100 pays in Africa, Asia and South America.

National Centre for Space Research, responsible for developing France's space and leading contributor to the European Space Agency. Founded in 1961, it employs over 2,300 staff across 4 centres (including the launching centre in French Guyana). Main scientific missions: access to space; earth, environment and climate; consumer and mass-market applications; science and innovation; national security applications.

French Institute of Education. Founded in 2011 and integrated within the École Normal Supérieure of Lyon. It conducts research and training (3 activities: interface & incubator, training, mediation & expertise) across 3 priorities: education professions and territories; teaching in higher education; learning and didactics.

French Institute of Petroleum and Energies Nouvelles, research and training organisations in the fields of energy, transportation, the environment, basic research and innovation-oriented research. Founded in 1944, it employs over 1,600 staff and is over 50% funded by industrial partners. Their four research themes are: sustainable mobility; renewable energies; responsible oil and gas; climate, environment and circular economy. The institute works with over 100 international partners in projects consortiums or bilateral contracts.

French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Founded in 1984, it employs over 1500 researchers, engineers and technicians. Operates in 5 centres, one for each of the country's coast, and 26 sites in metropolitan and overseas France. Its research focuses on the effects of climate change, marine biodiversity, prevention of pollution and sea products quality.

National Institute of Demographic Research. Founded in 1945, it employs 250 people across 11 research units. Its missions are the study of populations in France and abroad, knowledge dissemination and training. Given its remit on the study of worldwide population, it is active internationally including with visiting scholar programmes and partnership agreements.

National Institute on the Industrial Environment and Risk Management. Founded in 1990, it employs 600 staff in 4 locations. Its mission is to access and prevent acute and chronic risk to humans and their environment. Scientific priorities: accidental risk; chronic risks; ground and underground risks.

National Research Institute for Agriculture and Environment, formed in January 2020 by the merger of INRA, the National Institute for Agricultural Research, and IRSTEA, the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for the Environment and Agriculture. The institutes caries out research on agriculture, food and the environment around six major themes: climate change and risks; agroecology; biodiversity; food & global health; bioeconomy; society and regional strategies. It employs 11,500 staff across 18 centres. Internationally, INRAE is collaborating with several countries on associated laboratories and research networks and is also very active at the European level.

National institute for research in computer science and innovation. Founded in 1967, it now employs over 3,500 researchers and engineers across 9 research centres, with close relationships with large industrial groups such as Total or Microsoft. Its scientific work is divided into 9 research areas: algorithms & quantum computing; high performance computing; digital education; artificial intelligence; software; frugal digital; digital health; data science; digital security.

National institute for health and medical research, only public research body in France devoted entirely to human health. It was founded in 1964 and now employs over 13,000 staff in universities and hospitals, across 330 sites in France and abroad. Made up of 9 thematic institutes: molecular and structural basis of life sciences; cell biology, development and evolution; genetics, genomics and bioinformatics; neurosciences, cognitive sciences, neurology, psychiatry; cancer; immunology, inflammation, infectiology and microbiology; physiopathology, metabolism, nutrition; public health; health technologies. INSERM has over 6,000 cooperative arrangements with foreign partners, more than half of which are in Europe, although the main partner remains the US with 20%.

French institute for the science and technology of transportation, land use and urban networks. Became the Université Gustave Eiffel by merger with Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallee in 2020, it employs just over 1,000 staff across 6 sites. Created in 2011 by the merger of the French National Institute for transport and Safety Research and the French Central Laboratory of Roads and Bridges. It carries out targeted research and consulting services, with five departments: materials and structures; geotechnical engineering, environment, natural hazards and earth sciences; components and systems; transport, health and safety; planning, mobilities and environment. IFSTTAR is engaged in many European and international partnerships, with a network of over 600 European partners.

Development Research Institute. Conducts research between people and their environment, with a southern focus. Created in 1944, it operates 36 representative offices abroad and employs 7,000 people. It is active in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and oversea French territories. Its research units are organised in 5 departments: continent internal and surface dynamics; ecology, biodiversity and functioning of continental ecosystems; oceans, climates and resources; health and society; societies and globalisation.

Institute on radiation protection and nuclear safety, research and expertise on nuclear and radiological risks. Established in 2002, it employs nearly 1,800 staff across 11 sites in France grouped under protection of human being; environment and nuclear safety. IRSN is a recognised "Technical Safety Organisation" operating services in 39 countries. They also participate in international research programmes.

National Aerospace Research Office. Founded in 1946, it now employs nearly 2,000 people. Leader in aeronautical, space and defence research, with 25% of its work under European cooperation. Organised in 7 departments: basic & experimental aerodynamics; electromagnetism & radar; space environments; physical measurements; composite materials & structures; optics; planning & synthesis.



Back to top