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A European and international strategy for INRA

Updated on 01/23/2017
Published on 01/05/2017
Keywords: global - FOCUS

INRA will only find its full place in international food security research if it can transmit its strategies and capacities beyond France’s borders. Doing so will also foster innovation and support French farmers and agricultural industries on the international stage.

Half of INRA’s publications are the result of international cooperation; INRA’s international strategy draws on this core strength. Another major asset are INRA’s partnerships with other national stakeholders. These include its partnership with CIRAD, which shares its support unit for international relations with INRA to maximise effective use of resources, and its natural association with higher learning establishments through both universities and specialised institutions under the aegis of Agreenium.

Efforts are channelled into initiatives working with institutional partners on major issues, such as wheat (Wheat Initiative, since 2011), greenhouse gases (Global Research Alliance, since 2010) and soil carbon sequestration (4 per 1000 initiative, since 2015). These international partnerships encourage the alignment of research among countries, facilitate access to research infrastructure and support the development of international calls for projects. To develop INRA’s international-level research, a number of large-scale, internationally focused projects are being built, bringing together research and higher education in new campus facilities, such as the Paris-Saclay University with the CLAND Convergence Institute.
INRA’s institutional and human resources support multilateral institutions such as the FAO and the World Bank, and intergovernmental programmes such as the IPCC and IPBES. INRA’s contribution’s in the international agenda are strengthened by scientific conferences and parallel workshops held during food-security and climate negotiations. The Institute has also developed long standing relationships with international donors and major foundations.
At individual level, researchers are encouraged to develop their careers internationally. To that end, INRA supports initiatives fostering mobility, such as AgreenSkills. Efforts are already underway to recruit internationally and these are set to continue in the future. At departmental level, the development of international associated laboratories (LIA) will continue and will be broadened by the creation of international research networks (RRI). A number of joint international units (UMI) will also be established with shared worksites, management structures and budgets as a part of more closely integrated research and teaching partnerships. 
INRA’s European and international strategy is focused on the Institute’s scientific priorities and its role in higher learning. This will make INRA more attractive and contribute to the development and growth of major sites for agricultural research in France.

INRA’s international strategy is thematically based, particularly around those issues being studied through metaprogrammes. It is generally not geographically focused, with the exception of INRA's strategy towards Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

 

Europe

INRA is continuing to invest in the European Research area through joint programming, research and innovation initiatives, such as JPI, EJP, KIC and JTI. The Institute will incorporate its key research facilities and infrastructure into European systems. It will contribute to European policymaking on research and innovation, notably by participating in the Standing Committee for Agricultural Research (SCAR).

Senior researchers will coordinate projects with the support of INRA Transfert. Maximising the support given to junior researchers across divisions, centres and units will foster their participation in consortia, and thereby develop the necessary skills for them to take leadership roles in project coordination in the future. INRA will provide support across all project types, with particular focus on European Research Council (ERC), projects, where its participation still remains limited. Support will also be given to work with private-sector partners in EU research projects and appropriate fora for dialogue will be promoted in advance of calls for projects.

 

Mediterranean Basin

The Mediterranean Basin has been substantively affected by the particularly high levels of strain placed on the region’s  food systems. This threatens the stability of the area as a whole, including the European Mediterranean. INRA research has shown historical affinities towards the region, with nearly one publication in six dealing with Mediterranean issues. While INRA’s strong physical presence in the south of France is certainly a contributing factor, the interest of INRA researchers in the region goes beyond the Institute’s three centres there. Mediterranean partnerships have tended to focus on the Maghreb, although new partnerships are progressively being established, notably through the development of dedicated ERA-Nets coordinated in recent years by INRA and CIRAD. Consequently, one of INRA’s major focus areas is the success of the PRIMA Euro Mediterranean initiative,1 which looks at food security and water supply.

1. The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean (PRIMA) is an intergovernmental cooperation project  envisaged under Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.