The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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International cooperation

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Prioritizing actions, coordinating instruments, providing the community with clear funding opportunities

One of the major aims of the French National Research Agency is to expand its work internationally. Since 2006, the agency has found increasing ways to lend financial support to projects connected to the best foreign researchers. The growing number of partnerships has enabled it to meet different objectives, including:

  • strengthening the competitiveness of French research,
  • facilitating France’s entry into European competition,
  • and allowing national teams to collaborate with the best foreign teams.

As a young organisation in the field of national research and a representative of competitive project funding, the ANR has strived from the very start to rapidly integrate European and global networks, facilitating France’s international partnerships through project funding.

Prioritizing actions

With a tight budget and ever-increasing requests for collaboration, the ANR is forced to make choices and it is firmly committed to prioritizing work that will have the greatest impact for the sector. In choosing its priorities, it takes into account analyses made by national research system stakeholders (Thematic Alliances, CNRS, Ministry of Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc.). "In selecting the ANR’s international programming, different criteria are considered, measured and evaluated, says Pascale Briand, including: how to strengthen France’s scientific position in relevant sectors, how to consolidate the strengths of the national community and move further towards excellence, how to meet science diplomacy objectives, etc."

Efficiency of public funding: coordinate, not duplicate

The ANR has threaded together much of its 2014 Work Programme with the funding programme Horizon 2020, and more broadly with the European policy agenda, while being careful that its funding does not duplicate EU funding. As Horizon 2020 covers a vast range of scientific topics, the concern is to offer competitive funding harmonising intelligently with European calls for proposals.

In setting its priorities, the agency hopes to effectively coordinate national and European funding within the European Research Area. Depending on the sector, the goal may be to prepare the French scientific community to respond to European calls as efficiently as possible, to generate tilting or catch-up effects in a community that is already structured, in the process of being structured or poorly developed at national level, or to develop excellence by promoting European funding. The actual research areas may be transnational (e.g. climate change) and require a coordinated response from all Member States.

The various instruments also need to be streamlined under the new European Commission scheme, the ERA-NET COFUND. Through the latter, the Commission devotes a larger budget to research, and targets its funding more in the context of the societal challenges described in Horizon 2020. At a time when resources are concentrated on a limited number of ERA-NETs, the ANR focuses on prioritizing European activities and coordinating national and European tools on a pluriannual basis. The complementarity logic behind these actions is sector-based.

Offering the community clear funding opportunities

Relying in particular on the work of the COMINT, the ANR places great importance on giving researchers a clear picture of the funding available amongst the funding instruments offered by the agency and other French organisations, EU funding instruments and international instruments.

Reinforcing the visibility of French project-based research

We play an active part in European and international research policy, make French research more visible on projects by being part of a variety of European and worldwide governing bodies. ANR is member of the following organisations:

  • Science Europe, European association promoting the collective interests of the research funding and research performing organisations of Europe. Pascale Briand, ANR's Director general, joined Science Europe's governing board in November 2013.
  • the Global Research Council (GRC), permanent but virtual organisation comprised of the heads of science research agencies from around the world
  • G8-HORCs, gathering the Heads of the research councils of the G8 countries
  • the Belmont Forum, the main group of funding agencies for world research that wish to coordinate their work on environmental change, that ANR has co-chaired since 2012

Acting internationally – Facilitating cooperation

ANR supports the development of international research projects as part of its international cooperation policy. Consequently, the French research teams can submit projects involving one or more foreign research teams from any country to the generic call for proposals of ANR. In this case the foreign partners ensure their own funding.

ANR also collaborates with the research funding agencies of other countries in order to remove obstacles to cooperation. It signs agreements that serve to reduce the barriers and facilitate collaboration between teams from  different countries. They can concern targeted themes or be open to all the research themes funded by ANR. In this case each agency funds the teams from their respective country. These agreements are implemented in the context of the generic call for proposals or through the launching of specific international calls for proposals.