The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE) has set up a number of programmes aimed at developing scientific cooperation between France and partner countries. These bilateral programmes provide funding for international mobility among researchers and encourage the emergence of new partnerships.
Hubert Curien Partnerships (PHC)
France and its partners operate a total of 67 programmes known as the "Hubert Curien Partnerships" (PHC). The longest established among them were set up over thirty years ago with certain European partners (Spain, Germany), and some of the most recent are in Asia (Indonesia, China). Projects are selected according to criteria of scientific excellence and the complementary nature of the French and foreign teams. The involvement of young researchers and the innovative nature of the research are also taken into consideration. In most cases, calls for projects are open to all the scientific disciplines, including social and human sciences.
Other programmes such as COFECUB (Comité Français d’Evaluation de la Coopération Universitaire et Scientifique avec le Brésil), ECOS (Évaluation Orientation de la Coopération Scientifique) with Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay or the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA) are very similar to PHC partnerships.
Bilateral scientific programmes
Hubert Curien Partnerships (PHC)
Supporting mobility among researchers
The Hubert Curien Partnerships (PHC), bilateral programmes supporting mobility among researchers, are an important instrument of France’s scientific cooperation with its partners. PHC programmes are funded and managed in France by the MAE in association with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) and one or more partner institutions abroad.
PHCs are aimed at public or private research laboratories operated by higher education institutions, research bodies or private firms. They cover all the scientific disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences.
The objective of the programmes is to develop science and technology exchanges of excellence between research laboratories in the two partner countries, by encouraging new cooperation schemes. The programmes also have a role to play in the creation of the European Research Area. They operate on the following basis:
- calls for proposals issued simultaneously in France and abroad, on an annual or twice-yearly basis, depending on the partner country,
- bilateral evaluation of the joint proposals submitted, conducted in parallel in France and in the partner country,
- selection of projects by a joint committee meeting alternately in France and in the partner country.
67 PHC or similar programmes are currently under way with foreign partners. They account for over 2,000 projects every year, including 1,000 European partnerships, and generate mobility opportunities for over 10,000 researchers, both French and foreign. 80% of the projects result in the publication of one or more articles in a journal of reference. Many partnerships that started out thanks to the PHC programme have provided the inspiration for Framework Programme projects.
Joint Franco-American Funds
Starting in the early 1990s, the MAE began setting up endowment funds in conjunction with US universities to finance the development of trans-Atlantic partnerships in higher education and research. For some twenty years now, public endowments equally matched by sums invested by the Universities of Berkeley, Stanford and Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in endowment funds managed by the US partners have been providing financial support for bilateral scientific or educational projects. Collaboration schemes between universities have also been created through the new Alliance and Partner University Fund programmes.
The France-Berkeley Fund
The France-Berkeley Fund (FBF) is a cooperation programme set up in 1993 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University of California at Berkeley, establishing a French presence within the leading public university in the United States. Since 1999, the FBF has also extended to include the University of California, Davis and the University of Santa Cruz.
The fund holds capital in excess of US$4 million, generating annual investment income that is used to help finance research projects by joint Franco-American teams and exchange programmes. In 2012, the fund generated total joint income (interest plus contributions) of US$310,000.
The disciplines eligible for funding are the exact and applied sciences, humanities and social sciences. Between 15 and 25 projects are selected every year, following a call for submissions issued at the end of the year, and available for consultation on the FFB website.
Former FBF grantees include Charles Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964, George Smoot, winner of the same prize in 2006, Gérard Debreu, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics in 1983, Pierre Bourdieu and Barry Eichengreen.
The France-Stanford Fund
The France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, founded under an agreement between the MAE and the University of Stanford, was officially opened on 17 November 2003. Its aim is to develop exchanges between the University and French research institutes and higher education institutions, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary approaches.
Established on an initial grant of US$1 million from France, matched by the University, the fund now has total capital in excess of US$4 million. Annual interest income is in the region of US$300,000.
This income is used to initiate or fund joint research by teams from France and Stanford, in response to joint calls for proposals.
The fund finances between 10 and 20 projects a year, providing grants of up to US$15,000 (around €11,000) per project.
All disciplines are eligible for funding. Young French and American researchers are actively encouraged to participate in projects supported by the Center.
The Centre also stages conferences and promotes student and researcher exchanges.
The France-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Fund
The France-MIT Fund was set up in 2002 with capital of US$2 million provided equally by the MAE and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to develop long-term cooperation networks between France and the world-famous scientific institution.
From its annual income of some US$100,000 (€80,000), the fund supports around 20 joint projects or studies a year involving MIT faculty or students and their French counterparts. The fund also finances an annual programme of visiting professors.
The emphasis is on multidisciplinary approaches, and priority is also given to providing internships in France (in research laboratories or companies) for MIT students.
The fields of study concerned are those in which MIT engages, namely education, research and technological innovation.
Since its founding, the France-MIT programme has also been responsible for organising around 20 events on the MIT campus.
The France-Chicago Fund
The France-Chicago Fund was set up in 2001 with an initial endowment of US$2 million, of which US$900,000 was provided by the MAE and US$1,100,000 by the University of Chicago. The fund was used to create the France-Chicago Center, whose activities are financed from the fund’s annual interest income and from regular contributions from private donors, making up an annual budget of some US$30,000.
The France-Chicago Center supports exchange grant programmes for students from the University of Chicago and for student and research lecturer exchanges with French higher education institutions, and plays a part in organising seminars and colloquia. A specific programme funds around a dozen projects in the field of the exact sciences (including physics and biology), with grants of around US$10,000 (€7,300) per project.
Projects in the humanities and social sciences and in the exact and applied sciences are all eligible for funding.
An original initiative by French higher education institutions: the Alliance programme
The MAE supports the Alliance programme, founded in 2002, involving three French higher education establishments – the University of Paris I - Pantheon-Sorbonne, the École Polytechnique and Sciences-Po Paris – and the University of Columbia in the United States. The aim of the partnership is to increase the mobility of students, researchers and faculty and to intensify Franco-American research cooperation, primarily though multidisciplinary approaches.
Under the Alliance programme, an endowment fund was set up in February 2010 with capital of US$2 million provided equally by France and by the University of Columbia. The founding members in France each contributed the sum of €105,000, the MAE provided €560,000 and the remainder of the French contribution was provided through a grant from the Ile-de-France Regional Council.
Thank to the Alliance fund, the programme is now able to develop its activities on a wider scale:
- joint calls for research projects, grants for doctoral student mobility;
- support for structural, long-term collaboration on two priority themes: climate change and African studies;
- dual degrees (bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels) and conference cycles on a range of themes.
A cross-cutting fund: the Partner University Fund (PUF)
The Partner University Fund (PUF) was set up in 2007 thanks to the extraordinary generosity of two private donors (Mr. and Mrs. Wilmers) and the efforts of the MAE. Subsequent annual contributions from both parties took the fund to a total of US$10 million in 2009. The PUF funds programmes intended to strengthen and diversify exchanges between France and the US in higher education and research. The programmes operate under the auspices of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE).
Unlike the other joint French American funds, PUF funding is available to all higher education and research institutions in the USA and France. Projects of all kinds are eligible for funding (collaborative research, student or research lecturer mobility, joint or dual degrees, etc.), in any discipline.
A call for proposals is issued every year. Selected partnerships may receive funding of up to US$80,000 (nearly €59,000) a year for three consecutive years and possibly longer. As of 2010, funding of up to US$160,000 is now available for humanities and social sciences projects.
In 2008, over 120 students and more than 100 research lecturers were invited on exchanges by their French or US counterparts under the PUF programme. The fund supports around a dozen such partnerships a year.
The France-Canada Research Fund (FCRF)
The France-Canada Research Fund (FCRF) is an instrument of French Canadian cooperation created in 2000 by the MAE and a consortium of 16 leading Canadian universities across the country (increased to 19 in 2010). Its aim is to develop scientific relations between the two countries and encourage close links between researchers.
The FCRF holds capital of some Can$3 million (around €2 million). Other agencies associated with the FCRF are the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Canadian industry department (Industry Canada) and Total Canada. The fund is managed in Canada by the University of Ottawa.
The fund operates on the basis of an annual call for proposals open to every field of research. Projects are submitted jointly by researchers from a French institution (university, research body, grande école) and by a team from one of the Canadian universities in the consortium. Submissions are evaluated simultaneously, in Canada by a committee of experts and in France by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.
A joint bilateral selection committee meets alternately in France and Canada. Each successful project receives a grant of Can$10,000 (around €6,800) towards researcher mobility. In addition, the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research awards three grants a year to French doctorate programmes involved in certain projects funded by the FCRF.
The FCRF funds between 15 and 20 projects a year and has supported over 160 projects since it was established.
The Frontiers of Science and Frontiers of Engineering programmes
Originating in the United States in 1989 and intended to promote exchanges and create opportunities for researchers to overcome disciplinary and cultural boundaries, the Frontiers of Science (FoS) symposia bring together talented young scientists from two different countries to engage in debate on cross-disciplinary topics. The events proved an instant success, and the approach was extended to include other countries. Since 2007, France has initiated several cycles of symposia with Japan, the USA and Taiwan.
The Frontiers of Engineering (FoE) programme, a later creation, operates on the same principle as the FoS programme. Its aim is to strengthen relations between young engineers in two countries in the field of technology research. FoE symposia create a new forum for dialogue, designed specifically to provide an opportunity for the most promising young talents to discuss cutting-edge technology in the main sectors of engineering and industry.
The purpose of the symposia is to bring new research ideas to light, stimulate new approaches and create links between researchers as a means of encouraging new areas of international cooperation.
A consortium has been set up in France through which all the research bodies interested can pool their efforts to ensure the success of the FoS and FoE programmes. The main partners in the consortium are: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR), the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Conference of Directors of French Engineering Schools (CDEFI) and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). The consortium also includes associated partners: the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA), the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), the Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), the Research Institute for Development (IRD), the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), the Paris Institute of Technology - ParisTech and the Institut Mines-Télécom.
The FoS- FoE unit is responsible for managing the programme and organising the Frontiers of Science and Frontiers of Engineering symposia.
Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR)
A pioneering instrument in scientific cooperation between France and India The Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR) was founded in 1987 to support joint fundamental research by eminent scientists in France and India. The Centre has the status of a society under Indian law, under the joint authority of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of India Department of Science and Technology.
IFCPAR has a Scientific Council consisting of five French and five Indian members, responsible for jointly evaluating and selecting projects to be funded by the centre. An Industrial Research Committee, consisting of four French and Indian members, is responsible for evaluating and selecting research projects involving an industrial partner (projects of this kind must involve at least one industrial partner in either India or France and a research institute in the other country).
In 2012, IFCPAR embarked on a major restructuring designed to provide a better response to the needs for innovation and competitiveness expressed by the French and Indian governments. IFCPAR is determined to keep pace with the major changes taking place in research and innovation ecosystems in both France and India. In addition to its initial mission of supporting joint fundamental research, IFCPAR now provides funding agencies, research bodies and companies in the two partner countries with a platform capable of hosting and supporting their Indo-French collaboration initiatives.
Key figures (1997 – 2012) 1,124 research projects evaluated
- Over 400 joint French-Indian research projects supported (average funding of €190,000 per project over three years)
- Over 300 doctoral theses
- Close on 100 joint French-Indian seminars organised
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Promoting regional scientific cooperationThe aim of these partnerships is to create the momentum for joint research projects by teams from different horizons. Calls for proposals are generally issued once a year. Programme steering committees meet, primarily to select the successful projects. The funding provided by the various French and foreign partners is intended to support researcher mobility. The involvement of young researchers is highly recommended and constitutes one of the selection criteria.
Regional cooperation provides the means for teams from the different countries concerned to pool their research efforts, but also offers a useful opportunity to prepare for responding to European calls for proposals.
Regional programme for mathematics in South America
The MATH-AmSud regional programme was launched in 2007 at a regional seminar in Montevideo, as a French cooperation initiative. The Latin American partners in the programme are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. In France, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) support the programme, alongside the MAE.
The objective of the programme is to develop regional capacities in the field of mathematics in South America and to reinforce scientific partnerships with France through the creation of new networks.
The programme funds research projects selected following an annual call for proposals. The calls are issued in four languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese and English) on the websites of each participating institution. At least three countries are involved in each project (one French research team and two research teams from at least two Latin American countries).
Regional programme on Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies Programme in South America
The STIC-AmSud regional programme was launched at a regional seminar in Santiago, Chile, in 2005, as a French cooperation initiative. The Latin American partners in the programme are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. In France, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) and the Institut Télécom support the programme, alongside the MAE.
The objective of the programme is to develop regional capacities in the field of Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies (ICST) in South America and to reinforce scientific partnerships with France by creating new networks.
The programme funds research projects selected following an annual call for proposals. The calls are issued in four languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese and English) on the websites of each participating institution. At least three countries are involved in each project (one French research teams and two Latin American teams).
Strengthening regional cooperation in life sciences in South America: the AMSUD Pasteur programme
The AMSUD Pasteur regional programme is a network of scientific and technology cooperation in the medical sciences and biotechnology, created in 2001 as part of an agreement between Mercosur member States and France’s Institut Pasteur.
Over 60 leading academic institutions in South America have become members alongside the Institut Pasteur (26 in Argentina, 11 in Brazil, 8 in Chile, 5 in Paraguay, 13 in Uruguay) and play an active part in the network.
The aim of the programme is to develop a biological, biomedical and biotechnology hub to strengthen cooperation between universities and research and public health institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, both between the member countries and with the Institut Pasteur in Paris.
The main priorities for the AMSUD Pasteur network are providing high-level scientific and technical training for young researchers and implementing regional programmes in research, microbiological monitoring and the development of cutting-edge biotechnology in response to the region’s various health issues.
Regional training consolidation courses are organised in public health, biology, microbiology, biotechnology, technology transfer and innovation management. Young South American researchers may also receive training and attend courses at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.
A further addition to this cooperation in the life sciences came in 2006, with the opening of the Institut Pasteur in Montevideo (Uruguay). The institute plays a contributory role in developing research into the region’s endemic diseases (Chagas disease, haemorrhagic fever, dengue) and enables young Latin American researchers to pursue their work in their region of origin.
The AMSUD Pasteur programme is financed on the French side by the Institut Pasteur in Paris, the French Regional Cooperation Delegation for the Southern Cone and Brazil (Embassy of France in Chile) and certain French Embassies in the region (Argentina, Uruguay). The programme also receives support from institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and UNESCO.
For more information:
Sustainable development and environment (ENVI-Med)
ENVI-Med: a new programme for the Euro-Mediterranean Research Area
The ENVI-MED regional programme is a French diplomatic initiative targeting Mediterranean countries and designed to encourage and strengthen high-level scientific and technological cooperation within the region. It promotes the networking of research focusing on sustainable development and the environmental operation of the Mediterranean Basin in the widest sense (anthropogenic pressures and global changes).
Under the oversight of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ENVI-Med is managed by the CNRS and backed by the MISTRALS platform (a multi-organisation interdisciplinary programme based in Malta), and its ambition is to initiate multilateral cooperation and promote dialogue by supporting researcher mobility and organising regional seminars, workshops and scientific conferences.
The first call for proposals, issued in the spring of 2012, attracted considerable interest from the scientific community on both shores of the Mediterranean. A joint selection committee, made up of experts from France and the partner countries, meets every year to determine which projects will be awarded funding for a period of two years.
Each project must include at least one French research team and two other teams from Mediterranean countries (one of which is not an EU member State).
Updated on : april 2013
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