The National Center for Scientific Research, or CNRS, is a public organization under the responsibility of the French Ministry of Education and Research.

"Pushing back the frontiers of science". A film directed by Carla Bekinos and produced by CNRS Images (2014). Music: "Skyline" by Cyrus-Shahrad, with the kind authorization of Cézame Music Agency. Photographs: CNRS Photothèque.


Founded in 1939 by governmental decree, the CNRS aims to:

  • Evaluate and carry out all research capable of advancing knowledge and bringing social, cultural, and economic benefits for society.
  • Contribute to the promotion and application of research results.
  • Develop scientific information.
  • Support research training.
  • Participate in the analysis of the national and international scientific climate and its potential for evolution in order to develop a national policy.

Pushing back the frontiers of science

Download the CNRS presentation brochure (pdf format)

Annual budget

The organization's annual budget represents a quarter of French public spending on civilian research. It originates from various sources:

  • Government and public funding;
  • CNRS-generated income, primarily from industrial and EU research contracts and royalties on patents, licenses, and services provided.
2016 activity report cover

Activity report
2016 A year at the CNRS

Download the brochure in pdf format

Interdisciplinary research

The CNRS encourages collaboration between specialists from different disciplines, in particular with universities, thus opening up new fields of inquiry to meet social and economic needs. The CNRS has developed interdisciplinary programs, which bring together several departments as well as other research institutions and industry.

Interdisciplinary research is undertaken in the following domains:

  • Life and its social implications
  • Information, communication and knowledge
  • Environment, energy and sustainable development
  • Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials
  • Astroparticles: from particles to the Universe


CNRS laboratories (or research units) are located throughout France, and employ a large body of tenured researchers, engineers, and support staff.

Laboratories are all on renewable four-year contracts, with bi-annual evaluation by the CNRS. There are two types of labs:

  • Intramural labs, fully funded and managed by the CNRS.
  • Joint labs, in partnership with universities, other research organizations, or industry, both in France and abroad.

Map of the CNRS labs © CNRS Labintel - 31/12/2012