Presentation of research in France [fr]

Research and Technological Development in France

At the Lisbon summit in 2000, France, along with its European partners, stressed the central position of knowledge in the future of the most competitive economies of the 21st century. In order to meet the great challenges in environmental protection, health, new technologies and more generally quality of life, one country is not enough. France shares the objectives and principles of the European Research Council and is an important partner in the European Research Framework Programmes - currently Horizon 2020 – and more precisely through the agenda of “France Europe 2020”.

Consistent with the commitment made by the President of France, on February 4th 2013, in his address at Collège de France, the strategic agenda “France Europe 2020” will bring French research back to its fundamental role as a vehicle for knowledge creation, and strengthen innovation through its decisive contribution to France’s recovery.

The Research and Development effort in France

France is ranked 4th in the world for patents and 5th for scientific publications, hosting international researchers and research investment for developing countries.

France is among the top nations in terms of R&D. With 3.9 % of total scientific publications worldwide, France ranks at the 6th position, following an evolution pattern similar to its European counterparts. In 2010, France ranked 4th worldwide in terms of numbers of patents. France is notably specialized in “transports”, “nanotechnologies, microstructures”, “fine organic chemistry”, “motors, pumps, turbines”, “civil engineering”, “pharmacy”, “materials, metal industry”.

The French domestic R&D expenditures (DIRD) were as high as 43.4 billion euros in 2010, which means it has doubled since 1981 (at constant prices) and represents therefore 2.24% of the national gross domestic product (GDP).

  • The research endeavors are mainly the fact of private companies. In 2010, it represents 63% of R&D spending in France (27.4 billion euros) and 57% of total R&D financing. About 50% are focused on five research fields: automobile, pharmacy, aeronautics, electronic components and IT. Private companies have also invested a significant amount on transversal fields such as software development or new materials, nanotechnology, biotechnology and on the environment.
  • The domestic public sector R&D spending amounts to 15.9 billion euros in 2010 and is mainly done by research institutes and institutions of higher education.
  • The private sector is supported by State and Regional funding via direct funding, cooperations with public institutions in the civil or military sectors and tax strategies.
  • The international sector representsof France’s research funding.

The Human Capital in the Research and Development sector

In 2010, 515,000 persons were conducting research in France. During the past five years, the number of researchers has increased faster in private companies (+31%) than in the public sector (+4%). In total, France produces 12,000 PhDs each year, 60% of which are in scientific fields.

French technological successes (Airbus; TGV - High Speed Trains; Ariane space rocket ; discovery of HIV among many others), the number of French Nobel Prize winners (for example, Albert Fert, 2007 Nobel Prize for Physics), as well as the number of Field medals in Mathematics (Wendelin Werner, 2006) confirm that France is a dynamic innovation and research hub. In addition to 25 public Research institutes and 85 universities France also boasts Grandes Ecoles, Grands Etablissments and prestigious specialist Engineering schools as well as private companies and foundations involved in research. There are many possibilities for the creation of joint laboratories.

A R&D strategy in the frame of a European effort

Since 1984, the European Union creates R&D initiatives based on the 2000 Lisbonne strategy. The European Commission’s goal is to develop the “knowledge triangle”: research, education and innovation. The objective is to enable economic growth, social and environmental progress through knowledge.

From 2007 until 2013, the 7th PCRDT was one of these initiatives. France ranked 3rd after Germany and the United Kingdom, being involved inof projects up to March 2012 and coordinating 11% of them.

The Horizon 2020 initiative covers the period 2014-2020. A budget of 79 billion euros will support the whole innovation chain, from the idea to the marketing, thus strengthening the commercialization of research outcomes and the creativity of companies. With this new programme, the EU will finance transversal projects to tackle social and economic challenges. Horizon 2020 is built around three main priorities: scientific excellence, industrial primacy and societal challenges as follows:

•Health, demographic evolution and well-being
•Food safety, sustainable agriculture, sea and ocean research, bioeconomy
•Clean, safe and efficient energies
•Smart, green and integrated transport
•Fight against global warming, efficient use of resources and of raw materials
•Inclusive, innovative and safe companies

France has translated these objectives in the agenda of “France Europe 2020”. Its objective is to enable all areas of French research to better take on the scientific, technological, economic and societal challenges of the decades to come. Health, food safety, reasoned resource management and climate change, the energy transition, mobility and sustainable urban systems, development of the digital economy and space technologies, or re-industrialisation of our territories are all some of the major challenges on which research and innovation players must focus.
The strategy of « France Europe 2020 » relies on nine main objectives :

1.Mobilise players around major societal challenges
2.Reforge research coordination and guidance system in France
3. Promote technological research
4.Develop digital training and infrastructures
5.Foster innovation and technological transfer
6.Ensure uptake of the scientific culture
7.Develop programmes tailored for major research and innovation priorities
8.Build consistency between sites
9.Step up the presence of French research in Europe and abroad

Dernière modification : 10/04/2014

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