The CNRS is reaching out to industry. The National Center for Scientific Research has just launched its 200th joint laboratory with a private company. For Antoine Petit, the CEO of CNRS, eco guest of franceinfo on Monday, November 29, science “must be at the service of society“, and also economic development. According to the leader, these two missions are linked. Faced with Covid-19, he gives the example of a saliva test developed with the Alcen group:”You can buy it and test yourself. .
More broadly, the CEO defends the usefulness of these laboratories, which sometimes work with medium-sized companies and sometimes with large groups, such as TotalEnergies, Thalès, Safran or EDF: “Allowing inventions from laboratories to turn into breakthrough innovations is part of our job. “ Antoine Petit evokes Albert Fert, Nobel Prize winner in physics in 2007, who “has spent most of his career in a joint laboratory with Thalès “:
“We can do research at a very high level and in a joint laboratory with an industrialist.”Antoine Petit, CEO of CNRS
“The job of the CNRS is to do basic research “, he explains, assuring: “Even in these joint laboratories with industrialists, we do this fundamental research. We are relevant, not to solve an industrial problem at three or six months, but to think of the next move “. He cites, for example, the work accomplished with one of the tire leaders: “We are working with Michelin on the tire of the future. If Michelin decides to market this tire, it will not be for ten or fifteen years. It is in this perspective that he needs fundamental research “.
Funding for these structures is provided both by “public money “ and by the industrialist. Antoine Petit assures us that the laboratory project is “jointly decided “. Without pressure? “We have complete freedom to decide “, he says. When the invention becomes a commercial success, “there may be a financial return for the CNRS“, assures the manager:”We take patents, we take licenses, and we regularly have resources that come from royalties from those patents and licenses.“. But he felt” thatabove all, there will be a financial return for the main shareholder of CNRS, which is the State“because” sif a company wins markets, it will pay taxes“.
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