Research in life sciences and health is undergoing rapid change, marked by the acceleration of scientific and technical advances, and the globalisation of major health-related societal challenges. Combined with the emergence of new scientific powers, particularly in Asia and in South America, this development requires changes in the research policies of industrialised countries. It is against this background that the Inserm Directorate-General has developed its new strategy for international cooperation.
To support Inserm’s overall policy, Inserm’s 2016-2020 strategy for European and International cooperation is designed to enable it to:
- take part in world scientific and technical advances, while responding to national priorities in research and health
- enhance its attractiveness and visibility internationally
Developing and/or enhancing cooperation with target countries
This new cooperation policy, European and international, is part of France’s National Research Strategy (SNR), the international component of which is aimed at establishing a Strategic Orientation Plan in order to develop and/or enhance cooperation between France and target countries.
Inserm’s objectives are currently aimed at:
- Consolidating relations with the big scientific powers, and acquiring more visibility. The countries in question are the European countries, the United States, where Inserm has permanent representation, Canada (particularly in Quebec, on the themes of ageing and neurodegenerative diseases) and Israel.
- Strengthening collaboration with the new emerging scientific powers, namely China (infectious diseases), India (chronic metabolic disorders) and Brazil (neurosciences).
- Providing an incentive policy in relation to the developed countries of Asia – Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea – with which a high added value partnership strategy needs to be developed, particularly in the area of ageing and regenerative and cell therapy.
- Maintaining links with Africa, and especially with the Maghreb (northwestern) region (particularly in genetics), from where over 50% of international students enrolled in higher education in France come.
Moreover, Inserm is strongly involved in structural measures implemented in the Southern countries (Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia), via the Aviesan Sud group, for which it provides coordination within the Aviesan alliance. Coordinated actions are being conducted with regard to infectious diseases, in close association with the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS), and might later be extended to other diseases.
Participating actively in the construction of the European Research Area
As part of its European and international cooperation strategy for 2016-2020, Inserm considers all European countries to be priority countries. The Institute hopes to remain an active participant in constructing the European Research Area (ERA), by facilitating and supporting its teams in European cooperation and competition. Thus, the Institute’s strategy in relation to Europe is divided into 3 major strands:
Encouraging targeted bilateral cooperation
Inserm encourages targeted bilateral cooperation by:
- strengthening the tools of cooperation (LEAs and joint research groups, GDREs and European joint units)
- favouring targeted agreements, in a limited number, to define actions of common interest
- promoting the organisation of scientific seminars in order to encourage interaction between excellent European teams and Inserm teams, to reflect on the establishment of better tools for cooperation and future consortia for the next European calls for proposals
Encouraging participation in European programmes by Inserm teams
These programmes, and primarily the Horizon 2020 programme, constitute added value in strategic scientific and financial terms. To encourage participation by these teams, the Institute:
- provides them with quality information on the opportunities offered by these programmes: the Institute actually coordinates, on behalf of Aviesan, the National Contact Point (PCN) for “Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing”
- helps them to design and develop research or development projects/programmes for purposes of seeking funding
- puts in place various measures encouraging researchers to choose Inserm as a host institution,
- and helps applicants for Starting and Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council (ERC) to prepare for their interviews
Increasing influential actions under Aviesan and CLORA
CLORA (Club of Associated Research Organisations) was created to facilitate actions by those involved in French public research in relation to the institutions of the European Union. Inserm is a permanent member of CLORA.
- The regular interface between Inserm management and European decision-making bodies should be maintained, as should the annual organisation of scientific meetings in Brussels in the presence of members of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
- Involvement in strategic European bodies and implementation of influential actions for the preparation of work programmes and strands of the call must be strengthened.
- The same is true of the Institute’s involvement in projects at European level (EIT Health, EDCTP, etc.) and European initiatives (JNPD, JPIAMR, HBM4EU, JAAMR, etc.).
Increasing the attractiveness of the Institute abroad
Becoming an international benchmark for research also means increasing the attractiveness of Inserm abroad. Two types of initiatives are being undertaken by the Institute in this regard:
- Encourage international and European mobility within laboratories, by improving the offer of foreign language courses, by optimising the internal management of international mobility, and by encouraging applications from abroad to Inserm recruitment campaigns
- Improve hosting of foreign researchers, by supporting their administrative procedures (residence permits, opening a bank account, schooling of children, etc.), particularly by referring them to the appropriate structures or by providing them with English translations of documents, and facilitated access to accommodation
These actions are included in the HSR4R process (Human Resources Strategy for Researchers) adopted by Inserm in 2016.