Research and innovation: introducing an economic dimension into scientific cooperation
Over the last decade, France has pursued an active policy as regards innovation (in the wake of the 1999 law on innovation and research), reinforced by the law of 18 April 2006 on research. One of the main aims is to "intensify the dynamic of innovation and forge closer links between public and private research".
The national research agency, with its calls for "partnership" projects and funding from Carnot Institutes, the Oséo agency and the competitiveness clusters are now all part of the same dynamic.
Bilateral science and technology cooperation programmes are gradually paying greater attention to the need for research to be geared towards economic demand. At the same time, this process calls for greater interdepartmental collaboration.
Within the framework of scientific cooperation overall, cooperation in the field of innovation is pursued specifically with certain partner countries: the Franco-Brazilian working group, the Franco-Russian working group on innovation, dedicated chargés de mission at the French Embassies in China, the United States, India and Germany.
Developing technology partnerships between innovative SMEs
The "international technology partnership" is a tool aimed at French SMEs to help them identify overseas partners in a position to contribute technology and/or share in the costs of their research, and so develop new segments of the international market.
It comes into play downstream from research but before product is brought to market. The classic target is an SME with innovative ideas and in need of an international market in order to grow. It frequently involves a relationship with a research laboratory in the area of technology concerned, either in France or in the target country.
The "Initiative Entreprises Innovantes" (IEI) programme, run on behalf of the MAEE by RETIS (French national network of business incubators and European enterprise and innovation centres, CEEI) in conjunction with Oséo Innovation, is designed to encourage this type of partnership between French SMEs and their counterparts in countries offering significant technological and commercial opportunities. It was launched on an experimental basis at the end of 2007 for a period of three years with China and Brazil, and in 2008 with Russia. Plans for a link with India are under consideration.
The initiative is based on the issue of calls for projects to SMEs in the countries concerned. Five firms are selected (according to the innovative nature of the project and the opportunities for development it offers) and are invited to take part in a series of meetings with potential partners (SMEs and research laboratories).
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Supporting the international action of competitiveness clusters
A total of 71 competitiveness clusters have been selected and given national accreditation by the French government. Once accredited, the clusters determine their own development strategy, particularly at the international level.
A number of local authorities and agencies provide further support to clusters located in their area.
The clusters can also rely on the research networks set up by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and on European programmes.
The international dimension is an integral part of cluster strategy and is structural to their development.
The MAEE has provided its support since September 2005 with the backing of its network of Embassy scientific missions, and has thus helped clusters by :
identifying potential RD partners, working with ADIT to provide scientific and technical intelligence to meet cluster needs
providing information on existing aid programmes of potential interest, in terms of scientific and technical cooperation and of higher education
organising visits by delegations and seminars to encourage exchanges of ideas.
Updated : 28.04.10
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