A Leader in Innovation

Innovation comes from laboratories that perform basic research. The successful patent applications filed by CNRS researchers make it one of the world’s most innovative public organisations.

2nd most innovative global research institution
+ 130 joint research structures with companies
+ 1,400 start-ups created by laboratories

(since 1999)

Research behind innovation

Many of the discoveries that have led to breakthrough innovations stem from basic research, across all disciplines, from molecular biology and information technology, to particle physics, sociology, etc. This long-term research work, at the frontiers of knowledge, fosters important changes in our societies. These advances, which drive innovation, alter our everyday lives. A few examples in images :

Patents on the rise

CNRS researchers are inventors who successfully apply for an increasing number of patents. Their number and quality make the National Centre for Scientific Research one of the world’s primary innovators. Batteries, biomarkers, cosmetics, robotics, imaging, and HIV are the most prolific fields in terms of patent filings. The CNRS is committed to technology transfer, and grants licences for its patents to be used by industrial actors and entrepreneurs. The vast majority of licences are accompanied by scientific partnerships. 

Out of more than 5,600 patent families, 30% are filed in joint ownership with a private partner.

Michel Mortier, Chief Technology Transfer Officer

Technology transfer at the CNRS goes back a long way

Le docteur Comandon et son assistant M. Pierre de Fonbrune, derrière le microcinématographe
While he was at the Office national des recherches scientifiques et industrielles et des inventions (forerunner of the CNRS) in the 1930s, the physician, biologist, and inventor of micro-photography Jean Comandon analysed the movement of animal cells using cameras coupled with microscopes. © Fonds historique / CNRS Photo library


1939 from the early days of the CNRS, researchers filed patents and worked with industry
1967 a first technology transfer department saw the light of day at the CNRS (Anvar), the forerunner of BPI France
1992 the CNRS launched Fist SA, its national technology transfer company
1996 the CNRS regional Partnership and Technology transfer departments were established
1999 the “Allègre law” enabled researchers to set up companies
2011 the CNRS Medal of Innovation was introduced
2015 the Technology Transfer Office reporting directly to the CNRS president was created
2018 Fist SA became CNRS Innovation