More than 80% of Inserm's research units are located on university and hospital premises. Higher education institutions are Inserm's main partners in terms of joint supervision.
The French Higher Education and Research Act of July 22, 2013 introduced the notion of regional coordination for training and research and transfer strategies, on the basis of projects shared between higher education institutions and research organizations. This coordination promotes a multidisciplinary approach with new or enhanced interfaces between universities, schools (engineering schools in particular), businesses, local authorities and public research organizations.
Inserm contributes to this coordination by participating in various forums in which it promotes research into life sciences and health.
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The French Act 2007-1199 of August 10, 2007, on the freedoms and responsibilities of universities enhances the ability of each establishment to develop a scientific policy and therefore affirm research priorities. In this context, Inserm takes a position, with partner research organizations for life sciences and health, regarding the priorities expressed by local stakeholders, after a strategic and scientific assessment has been undertaken in the main areas covered by thematic institutes. This consists in:
- supporting the development of the activities of mixed research units, ranging from single-team units to research centers;
- supporting the development of research infrastructures for biology/health, technology, clinical research and public health; the identified priorities should meet local needs defined at the local level and be consistent with national and European roadmaps for very large infrastructures; and
- supporting the autonomy of young researchers to attract excellence.
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The French Act No. 2013-660 of July 22, 2013, on higher education and research introduced the creation of Associations of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ComUEs).
Due to its national presence, Inserm works with almost all ComUEs. Inserm is:
- a member of three ComUEs in Paris (Paris Sciences et Lettres, Université Paris-Saclay, Sorbonne Paris Cité), and
- a partner or associate member of all ComUEs that host Inserm units.
Some university groups sponsor or rely on an Initiative for Excellence (IdEx) or a Science – Innovation – Territorial - Economic Initiative (Isite) project. Inserm is currently involved in the governance and scientific strategy of:
- 10 IdEx projects (Confirmed Idex: Sorbonne University, Strasbourg, Marseille and Bordeaux. Idex on probation phase : Paris Saclay, PSL, USPC,Lyon, Grenoble and Nice), and
- 6 I-site projects (Bourgogne Franche Comté, Lorraine, Lille, Montpellier, Clermont Auvergne and Nantes).
Inserm wanted to establish close partnerships with 15 Grandes Ecoles (highly prestigious and selective higher education institutions). This action has been confirmed in Inserm's strategic plan.
In this context, Inserm and CentraleSupélec signed a framework agreement in 2015. The twin objective of this new collaboration is to train engineers that are better integrated into research laboratories, and biologists that are more involved in technological innovation. The two establishments hope to enhance their communal actions through innovation and entrepreneurial spirit; the creation of new businesses will be another aspect of the programme being established.