Public Sector Research Establishments

Public funded research in France is undertaken in approximately 25 multidisciplinary or specialised research establishments as well as within 74 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs, i.e. universities and “grandes écoles”).

Public Research

These different institutions work closely together, through administrative entities called “Joint Research Units” (Unités Mixtes de Recherche, UMR). UMRs have an independent director and board, receive their own budget and devise their own research strategy within a multi-year agreement with the government’s Department for Education, Higher Education and Research.

PSREs encompass several types of structures, with various legal personalities, and include research foundations such as Institut Pasteur or Institut Curie.

In 2012, the total funding of public research was €18.7bn, allocated via the following streams:
- Multi-annual direct and recurrent endowment to PSREs and HEIs;
- Research project-based grants allocation by the [ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche),
- Other sources including European funding, French regions or private sector.

Facts and Figures

- 3,200 Research Units (UMRs, intramural, etc.)
- 102,550 researchers (FTE);
- > 50% of French public research is conducted by PSREs, including 19% for the CNRS and 14% for the CEA;
- In 2013, >1,200 patents filed, the top 3 research bodies being CNRS (625), CEA (408) and IFP Energies Nouvelles (188);

What are these PSREs?

The oldest and largest is CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) which was founded in 1939, and still today covers all scientific fields.

All other PSREs are dedicated to a more specific area of science, as follows:

- Agri-tech (INRA, CIRAD)
-  Environment (INRA, CIRAD, IRSTEA, BRGM, IPEV)
- Energy and Transport (CEA, IFP Energies Nouvelles, IRSN, INERIS, IFSTTAR)
- Marine Sciences (IFREMER, IPEV)
- Biomedical sciences and Health (Inserm, CEA, Institut Pasteur,Institut Curie, Fondation maladies rares, Institut National du Cancer, CEPH, Fondation Plan Alzheimer)
- Space and Aeronautics (CNES, ONERA)
- Research for Development (IRD, CIRAD, Institut Pasteur)
- Computing, Telecommunications and Digital Technologies (INRIA, CEA, RENATER, IFSTTAR)


For further information please consult the latest State of Higher Education and Research in France (in French) report published in June 2015 by the French Government.

Published on 03/09/2015

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