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CNRS in Brief

The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research) is a government-funded research organization under the administrative authority of France's Ministry of Research.


Founded in 1939 by governmental decree, CNRS has the following missions:

  • To evalulate and carry out all research capable of advancing knowledge and bringing social, cultural, and economic benefits to society
  • To contribute to the application and promotion of research results
  • To develop scientific information
  • To support research training
  • To participate in the analysis of the national and international scientific climate and its potential for evolution in order to develop a national policy
CNRS research units are spread throughout France, and employ a large body of permanent researchers, engineers, technicians, and administrative staff. Laboratories are all on
four-year, renewable contracts,  with bi-annual evaluations. There are two types of labs:
CNRS labs: fully funded and managed by CNRS
Joint labs: partnered with universities, other research organizations, or industry

As the largest fundamental research organization in Europe, CNRS is involved in all scientific fields, organized in the following areas of research:  
  • Life sciences
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Earth Sciences and Astronomy
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Environmental Sciences and
  • Sustainable Development
  • Engineering
CNRS conducts some twenty interdisciplinary programs. One major objective is to promote inter-disciplinarity in order to improve knowledge, ensure economic and technological development, or solve complex societal problems. They concern the following fields:
  • Life and its social challenges
  • Information, communication, and knowledge
  • Environment, energy, and sustainable development
  • Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials
  • Astroparticles
The CNRS annual budget represents one-quarter of French public spending on civilian research. This funding comes from various sources:
  • Government and public funding
  • CNRS funds, primarily from industrial and EU research contracts and royalties on patents, licenses, and services provided.
... And Figures

Budget for 2007
€2.834 billion of which €513 million come from revenues generated by CNRS contracts

31,239 employees:  11,677 researchers, 14,456 engineers and technical staff, and 5106 non permanent employees


  • 1190 research units–83% are joint research laboratories with universities and industry
  • €10.3 million devoted yearly to interdisciplinary research programs

Industrial Relations (2006)

  • 4000 contracts signed by CNRS with industry 
  • 39 current agreements with major international industrial groups
  • 7450 patents
  • 1057 licenses and other financially remunerating active acts in 2005
  • €53.3 million in royalties
  • 246 companies created from 1999 to 2005


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