Research in life sciences and health is undergoing rapid change, marked by the acceleration of scientific and technical advances, and the globalization of major health-related societal challenges. Combined with the emergence of new scientific powers, particularly in Asia and South America, this change requires industrialized countries to adapt their research policies in response. It is against this background that Inserm has developed its new strategy for international cooperation.
To support its overall policy, Inserm’s strategy for European and international cooperation is designed to enable it to:
- play an active role in scientific and technological advances around the world, while responding to national research and health priorities
- enhance its appeal and visibility internationally
Developing and/or increasing cooperation with target countries
This European and international cooperation policy is part of France’s National Research Strategy (SNR), the international component of which aims to establish a Strategic Orientation Plan to develop and/or enhance cooperation between France and target countries.
Inserm’s objectives are currently centered on:
- Consolidating relationships with leading scientific powers and thereby raising its profile. The countries in question are the European states, Canada (particularly Quebec, for the areas of aging and neurodegenerative diseases) and the United States, where Inserm has permanent representation based in Washington, D.C., and Israel.
- Increasing collaboration with new emerging scientific powers, namely China (infectious diseases), India (chronic metabolic disease), and Brazil (neurosciences).
- Pursuing an incentive policy in relation to the developed Asian countries – Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea – with whom it seeks to develop a partnership strategy with high added value, particularly in the areas of aging and regenerative and cell therapy.
- Strengthening and expanding cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in relation to infectious diseases, but also metabolic disease.
- Maintaining links with the Maghreb region of North Africa (particularly in genetics), which provides over 50% of the international students enrolled in the French higher education system.
Inserm is also strongly involved in the structural development activities taking place in Southern countries (sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia) via the Aviesan Sud group, which it coordinates within the Aviesan alliance. Joint action is being taken in relation to infectious diseases, in close collaboration with the ANRS, and may be extended to other disease areas in future.
Actively contributing to the development of the European Research Area
Inserm considers the European Research Area (ERA) to be a priority within its European and international cooperation strategy. The Institute seeks to maintain its active role in the development of this area by facilitating and supporting the involvement of its staff in European cooperation and competition. The Institute’s European strategy therefore has four major strands:
Promoting targeted bilateral cooperation
Inserm is encouraging this by:
- strengthening cooperation tools (LEAs and joint research groups, GDREs and European joint units)
- focusing on a limited number of targeted agreements, to define projects of common interest
- promoting the organization of scientific seminars in order to encourage meetings between leading European groups and Inserm groups, to reflect on the implementation of better cooperation tools, and future consortia for upcoming European calls for proposals
Encouraging Inserm staff to take part in European programs
These programs, and most importantly the Horizon 2020 program, constitute added value in strategic scientific and financial terms. To encourage its staff to participate in such schemes, the Institute:
- provides them with high-quality information on the opportunities offered by these programs: the Institute in fact coordinates, on behalf of Aviesan, the National Contact Point (NCP) for "Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing" and is involved in 4 other NCPs (ERC, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, FET, legal and financial issues)
- helps them to design and develop research or development projects/programs for the purposes of seeking funding
- implements various measures designed to encourage researchers to choose Inserm as a host institution,
- helps Starting and Consolidator Grant applicants to prepare for their interviews with the European Research Council (ERC)
Leveraging its influential position as part of Aviesan
- Regular interactions between Inserm management and the European decision-making bodies should be maintained, along with the organization of annual scientific meetings in Brussels attended by members of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
- Involvement in strategic European authorities and the implementation of actions designed to influence the development of work programs and calls should be strengthened.
- The involvement of the Institute in projects at a European level (EIT Health, EDCTP, etc.) and European initiatives (JNPD, JPIAMR, HBM4EU, JAAMR, etc.) should also be strengthened.
Contributing to CLORA and maintaining a presence in Brussels
- CLORA (Club of Associated Research Organisations) was created to support the work of stakeholders involved in French public research in relation to the institutions of the European Union. Inserm is a permanent member of CLORA.
Boosting the appeal of the Institute abroad
Becoming a leading international player in research also means enhancing Inserm’s appeal abroad. Two kinds of initiatives are being undertaken by the Institute in this regard:
- Encouraging international and European mobility within laboratories, by improving its foreign language courses, optimizing internal management of international transfers (in particular with the creation of a dedicated guide), and by encouraging candidates from abroad to apply for Inserm jobs
- Improving the welcome extended to foreign researchers, by supporting them through administrative procedures (residence permits, opening a bank account, children’s schooling, etc.), in particular by referring them to the appropriate bodies or by providing them with English translations of documents, and helping them find accommodation
These actions form part of the HRS4R (Human Resources Strategy for Researchers incorporating the Charter and Code Principles) policy adopted by Inserm in 2016.