ANR’s work to support partnership-based research
Promoting innovation by developing public-private partnerships in the field of scientific research is a core component of ANR’s purpose. The Agency has several funding instruments suited to each level of technological readiness.
From invention to innovation: the Innovation Through Research day
On 12 December 2019, researchers, business leaders and institutions came together at the Station F site to take part in a day focused on partnership-based research, Innovation Through Research. The event was organised by ANR and conceived in partnership with research and innovation stakeholders, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI), the General Investment Secretariat (SGPI), the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), CNRS and Bpifrance1. With round-table discussions, joint presentations by pairs of project coordinators and a space dedicated to demonstrations and innovation pathways, the event was a chance to share experiences and present the Agency’s funding instruments dedicated to collaborative research between public and private partners.
Supporting technology transfer and competitiveness
LabCom encourages the creation of joint laboratories by supporting collaborations between research institutions and the fabric of small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and intermediate-sized enterprises.
Industrial Chairs give structure to ambitious projects in priority strategic fields, conducted with companies of all sizes based in France.
Within the AAPG, the Collaborative Research Project Involving Enterprise(s) (PRCE) instrument funds research projects involving collaboration between public and private entities with a potential opening to the world of business.
More specific funding instruments
Through the Carnot programme, ANR funds research institutions with the Carnot label for excellence awarded to laboratories carrying out work in collaboration with the commercial world.
Challenge stimulates researchers to overcome scientific, technological, methodological or social obstacles by mobilising several scientific and industrial teams to address a single problem.
Maturation: following the ASTRID programme, the ASTRID Maturation call responds to the dual civilian and military research needs of the armed forces ministry. Both programmes are fully funded by the French Defence Innovation Agency (AID). Other calls, such as Ecophyto Maturation, support work to increase projects’ technological readiness levels. This call, initiated by three ministries as part of the Ecophyto II plan, aims to develop basic solutions or results into operational models that can reduce the use of phytosanitary products in agriculture. It is co-funded by the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) and ANR with a total budget of €3.5 million.
ANR also supports public-private partnerships through the Technological Research Institutes (IRT) and the Institutes for Energy Transition (ITE), which it funds through the Investments for the Future programme (see p.26). Based on long-term partnerships between higher education and research institutions and companies, these thematic research institutes are designed to reinforce competitiveness through industrial research in strategic technological sectors.
Supporting projects based on their readiness level
The nine-point TRL scale (Technology Readiness Level) evaluates the maturity of a technology up to the stage of industrial production. PRCE, Industrial Chairs and ASTRID support public-private partnerships from a very early stage, as soon as the basic principles of an innovation have been described (TRL1). Development can continue as far as validating the concept in the laboratory (TRL4) for PRCE and the development of an initial prototype (TRL5) for ASTRID Maturation and the Industrial Chairs. The Carnot programme and the Challenge and LabCom calls for proposals intervene at a later stage, when the proof of concept has been established experimentally (TRL3). They usually come to an end when the prototype has been shown to work in an operational environment (TRL7).
The Flash tool for responding to urgent research needs
An accelerated project selection and funding procedure – that is the goal of Flash calls for proposals. Created in 2010, this tool is used when an exceptional disaster or major event requires a fast scientific response.
The JOP24 Flash call for proposals was one example. On 22 March 2019, ANR and the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security (SGDSN) launched the JOP24 Flash call for proposals. Its goal was to develop the best technological solutions to respond to the security problems posed by the Paris Olympics and Paralympics in 2024.
The selected projects had to test their technologies quickly under real-life conditions (TRL7). On 2 July, six out of the 17 projects submitted were selected for a total funding budget of €2.8 million. They include developing a multichannel platform for alerting the public, detecting unusual or critical situations in real time and analysing and anticipating crowd phenomena.
Examples of successful partnerships
Several partnerships supported by ANR were honoured at the event on 12 December 2019:
- The Homeric Industrial Chair succeeded in meeting several challenges in organic electronics. Coordinated by Georges Hadziionnou, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, and put together with the Arkema group, the project has already brought a new family of copolymers to market.
- The Quantum Genomics LabCom is coordinated by Catherine Llorens-Cortes, Inserm, Collège de France, French winner of the Prix Galien in 2014. This project aims to develop a new class of antihypertensive drugs acting on the brain with the company Quantum Genomics. A phase 3 trial (70 centres and over 500 patients) is now in progress to evaluate the effectiveness of FIRIBASTAT in patients whose arterial hypertension is poorly controlled with conventional drugs.
- The Desirable PRCE is successfully industrialising the production of insect larvae as feed for poultry and fish. Coordinated by Samir Mezdour, a researcher in food science and agri-food processes at AgroParisTech, this partnership with Ynsect aims to design an insect biorefinery to contribute to more sustainable food systems.
- The Trimaran PRCE was coordinated by Dinh-Thuy Phan-Huy, a research engineer at Orange Labs specialising in wireless networks and winner of the 2018 Ferrié grand prize for electronics and the 2018 Irène Joliot-Curie prize in the Women in Research and Business category. The project aimed to improve the energy efficiency of mobile networks.
- The Mica Carnot Institute developed a high-performance system for drying timber using free heat from an urban district heating network. Mainly coordinated by Simona Bennici, a researcher at the CNRS Mulhouse Materials Science Institute, the project results from intensive cooperation with the R-CUE company.
- The Saint-Exupéry IRT is contributing to the design of the electric aircraft of the future in close collaboration with the Safran group. The project, coordinated by Laurent Albert, director of the dielectrics, conductors and plasmas research centre at IRT Saint-Exupéry, is dedicated to designing and developing breakthrough technologies in three fields: high-performance multifunctional materials, electric aircraft and onboard systems.
- The Carotte Challenge was organised to improve capacity for building mapping and ground analysis in urban settings. The two successive phases of the challenge were awarded to the CoreBots consortium, involving Mines ParisTech, Inria and the start-up Intempora among other partners, and coordinated by Arnaud de la Fortelle, director of the Mines ParisTech robotics centre.