PressCNRS international magazine

Table of contents

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 contracts, renewable, 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

> Humanity 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 2006

€2.738 billion of which €494 million come from revenues generated by CNRS



26,080 permanent employees–11,664 researchers and

14,416 engineers and technical staff



> 1256 research and service units–almost 90% are joint laboratories

> €20 million devoted yearly to interdisciplinary research programs


Industrial Relations in 2005

> 3901 contracts signed with industry 

> 37 framework agreements and 65 Joint research units with industrial partners

> €132 million of revenues generated from contracts(EU contracts not included)

> 7450 Patents in CNRS portfolio (238 deposited and 239 PCT)

> 578 Active licenses

> €50 million of royalties

> 186 start-ups created since 1999




DREI, an office devoted to international relations


CNRS pursues an active international policy, whose implementation is the responsibility of the Office of European and International Relations (Direction des relations Européennes et Internationales, or DREI).

The DREI coordinates the international activities of CNRS with that of other research organizations in France and abroad. It oversees the role of CNRS in any international actions carried out by the French government, working closely to this end with the Ministries of Research and Foreign Affairs.

The DREI also plays a role in promoting international exchange. It proposes new venues for collaboration, based on a science and technology watch in other countries. This watch is carried out with the help of CNRS offices abroad and of scientific attaches in French embassies. To accomplish its task, the DREI has offices in Paris responsible for four geographical areas (Europe; Americas; Africa and Middle East; Asia-Pacific) and 9 offices in foreign countries (see back cover).


In numbers:

> Exchange agreements:  85 (with 60 countries)

> Foreign visiting scientists: 5000 (PhD students, post-docs and visiting researchers)


Permanent foreign staff members:

> 1340 researchers of whom 54% come from the European Union

> 262 engineers and technicians

> International Programs for Scientific Cooperation (PICS): 200

> International Associated Laboratories (LEA + LIA): 40

> International Research Groups (GDRE + GDRI): 30

> International Joint Units (UMI): 16


Budget for 2006: €10M


Contact: Isabelle Chauvel,


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