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ANR : the new financier of French research

A year after its creation, the French National Research Agency (ANR)1 is up and running. Its missions include supporting the development of basic and applied research, and improving partnership between the public and private sectors. The first projects started in September 2005. Out of 5400 applications, 1400 projects were accepted, for a total amount of €540 million. Thirty percent of these funds will benefit CNRS directly.

The projects, evaluated by a committee of over 700 scientists from all over the world, cover four main multidisciplinary areas made a priority by the French government: health, food and agriculture; energy and sustainable development; communication, information sciences and technology; nanosciences and nanotechnologies. The agency will also fund “white programs,” innovating projects that do not fit in the given categories.

Why this new Agency? “Because the government wanted a project-oriented funding body which was less dependent on political fluctuations,” explains Gilles Bloch, recently named director of the ANR. The ANR's budget should reach a yearly €700 million to fund projects over a period of three years. Funding can be used in part to hire staff on short term contracts, such as post-docs, technicians or engineers. This is a major change for French scientists and an essential step toward more flexibility and reactivity. The ANR also plans to support the humanities and social sciences, a very dynamic field in France. A total of €25 million have thus been allocated to research in these areas over the next three years. Bloch has also announced funding to support existing partnerships with the private sector. “Once a project is selected, each partner should receive between €50 to €150 million,” says Bloch.

Notes :

1. Agence nationale de la recherche.


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