Attractive cooperation tools

The CNRS has set up structured cooperation mechanisms to strengthen its presence worldwide. These include in particular 37 international joint units that offer a long-term perspective to the organisation’s activity. The reputation of its researchers has enabled the CNRS to step up exchanges with foreign partners in the form of publications in scientific journals, missions abroad, and international conferences.

Partnerships suited to researchers’ needs

The CNRS relies on flexibility to adapt to the evolution of global science and the needs of researchers and engineers. Bilateral agreements, concluded with partner countries and their main research and financing institutions, offer many possibilities for collaboration. Various mechanisms enable researchers to engage in long-term scientific cooperation, or to create international research networks for projects bringing together teams from different countries. Higher-education and research institution partners can benefit from these mechanisms.

Optimal research conditions

Bâtiment néoclassique face à une pelouse arborée
Killian Court, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. © flickr commons

“Thanks to a partnership with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), located in Cambridge in the United States, we are co-directing ambitious research programmes focusing on materials such as cement and shale. Significant industry financing, cutting-edge innovation projects, top-level American and French PhD students and postdoctoral fellows make ideal conditions for conducting research at the highest level.”

Roland Pellenq, Director of the <MSE>2 international joint unit (matériaux multi-échelles pour l’énergie et l’environnement) CNRS/MIT/Aix-Marseille Université.

Laboratories throughout the world

The CNRS is one of the world’s few research institutions to establish lasting joint research structures abroad. The 37 international joint units (UMI), which are genuine laboratories located within partner universities, bring together researchers, students, postdoctoral fellows, engineers, and technicians from both the CNRS and foreign partner institutions. The CNRS has also set up a network of 26 joint units with a French research institute abroad (Umifre) in the humanities and social sciences, directed in partnership with the European and Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Of the 36 international joint units, 4 are in partnership with industry in connection with innovation programmes. These collaborations, located in global innovation hubs, create a working environment that is highly conducive to the emergence of latest-generation technologies.

  • In Singapore, the Cintra UMI in partnership with the aerospace, defence, security and ground transport giant Thales, conducts research on nanotechnologies, electronics, and photonics of the future, along with their associated applications.
  • In Shanghai, the E2P2L UMI with Solvay, a major actor in global chemistry, focuses on green chemistry.
  • In Tsukuba, Japan, the Link UMI with Saint-Gobain, global leader in housing solutions, concentrates on innovative materials and key structures. 
  • In Pennsylvania, US, the Compass UMI with Solvay carries out research on the creation, manipulation, and comprehension of soft matter.

The French school of mathematics in Brazil

Arthur Avila lors de la biennale de maths à Rio
Artur Ávila, during the Rio de Janeiro Mathematics Biennial in 2017. © IMPA

In Rio de Janeiro, the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (CNRS-IMPA) brings together 50 researchers in the discipline. The UMI, which was created within the framework of the French-Brazilian mathematics network, stands out in at least three areas of excellence: dynamic systems, partial differential equations, and geometry. The mathematician Artur Ávila, winner of the 2014 Fields medal, embodies the long-standing French-Brazilian tradition of detecting young talent.

French scientists can join the UMI on one-year secondments from their institutions of origin. This possibility is available to both CNRS researchers and academics in French universities.