An organisation structured for innovation

The CNRS’s policy reflects its commitment to supporting groundbreaking innovation from its laboratories. It was the first research organisation to create a dedicated technology transfer department for research results. The institution plays an essential role in the French innovation landscape, in collaboration with multiple partners.

Promoting technology transfer

18 M€ dedicated each year to technology transfer

(exclusive of salaries)

300 CNRS staff

involved in technology transfer

14 SATTs

14 regional technology transfer companies, and one national company: CNRS Innovation

Accelerating groundbreaking innovation

Transfer Focus: 20 key domains

A leader in strategic scientific subjects, the CNRS focuses its national technology transfer policy on 20 key domains known as “Transfer Focus”, which are based on a number of advantages: its scientific strength, patent portfolio, privileged links with industry, expertise in technology transfer, and high innovation potential at the highest national and international levels. The organisation is accelerating groundbreaking innovation in these fields (nanomaterials, oncology, Alzheimer’s disease, service robotics, batteries, etc.), in other words the emergence of radically new concepts leading to major societal advances.

Transfer Focus List

  • Memory technology (magnetism, spintronics)
  • Optoelectronics - Light sources for health
  • Optoelectronics - LED
  • Optoelectronics - Terahertz sources
  • Oncology - Immunotherapy
  • Oncology - Biomarkers
  • Oncology - Tumoral stem cells
  • Oncology - Epigenetics
  • Alzheimer’s
  • HIV
  • Cosmetology and skin treatment
  • Molecular imaging agents
  • Batteries
  • Photovoltaic solar energy - organic
  • Photovoltaic solar energy - thin layers
  • Technology transfer of lignocellulosic biomass
  • Technology transfer of CO2
  • Service robotics
  • Big data

Accessing the market thanks to pre-maturation

In order to identify and promote innovative research projects, the CNRS has established a pre-maturation process in connection with its industrial partners. This involves the use of internal funding to support the early developmental stages of emerging technologies, in an effort to bring them to fruition and help them access the market. This commitment accelerates technology transfer in a number of ways: filing of patents, creation of start-ups, pursuit of technological maturation, and new industrial partnerships.

Supporting the development of new materials

Echantillon du nouvel or blanc créé par l'entreprise Daumet
 © Daumet

"The new gold alloy discovered through research conducted by the physics joint unit between the CNRS and the company Thales enabled me to launch a start-up called Daumet. This novel material is of great interest to watchmaking, jewelry, and goldsmithery. Thanks to the support of the CNRS, I was able to steer the evolution of this new technology according to market needs."

Cyrile Deranlot, president of Daumet.

Daumet website

Technology transfer structures

The CNRS is strategically and operationally structured to implement its technology transfer and innovation policy, as well as to assist researchers and companies in the process.

Technology Transfer Officer (DGV)

A Chief technology transfer officer reporting directly to the president has led and coordinated the CNRS’s technology transfer activities since 2015. The creation of this position is an important signal of the organisation’s commitment to making technology transfer one of its top priorities.

Learn more about DGV

Innovation and Business Relations Department (Dire)

The DIRE implements the institution’s technology transfer strategy, working closely with its Institutes, regional offices, and CNRS Innovation. It oversees the implementation of the CNRS’s technology transfer policy with the relevant parties, and supports the creation of companies, in addition to organising partnerships with large industrial groups and SMEs. Its strategy revolves around three priorities:

  • strengthening CNRS involvement in innovation processes
  • increasing the effectiveness of the transfer of research results towards the socioeconomic world
  • developing industrial partnerships

Innovation website (in French)


CNRS Innovation

The mission of CNRS Innovation, a subsidiary of the CNRS and BPI France, is to transfer innovative technologies emerging from CNRS associated laboratories to industry. It evaluates technologies, establishes protection strategies, manages the portfolio of patents and their transfer to companies through negotiation and operating contracts. It also develops solid expertise in mapping innovation fields, positioning technologies, and helping entrepreneurs launch start-ups.

CNRS Innovation website

Technicien manipulant un cluster de croissance d'oxydes fonctionnels.
L’unité mixte de physique CNRS / Thales est un modèle de recherche fondamentale de haut niveau intégrant les besoins industriels. Les découvertes qui en sont issues ont notamment valu à Albert Fert le prix Nobel de physique en 2007.© Cyril Frésillon / UMR CNRS-Thales / CNRS Photothèque

A dynamic innovation environment

Many national schemes feature in the French technology transfer and innovation landscape. Numerous actors are involved in the innovation process, from the selection of a project in the laboratory to bringing technology to market. The CNRS plays a key role in this process, as it complements — and interacts with — existing structures.

Technology Transfer Companies (SATT)

Created in 2012 at the initiative of the French government in connection with the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA), the SATTs are the leading regional actors in public research maturation and technology transfer. Present across France and endowed with nearly 1 billion euros in funding, the 14 SATTs act as the interface between laboratories and the business world of technology transfer.

Technological Research Institutes (IRT)

Emerging from the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA), the IRTs promote relations between academia and companies. These private organisations, in which the CNRS is actively involved, enjoy financing to the tune of €2 billion, and are jointly set up through public-private partnerships. They focus on technology of the future, for which France is aiming to become a world leader.

Carnot network

The Carnot network (Institutes and Associated structures) are labels of excellence attributed by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. They recognise research from public-private partnerships, and contribute to scientific renewal by financing basic research. Through more than a hundred laboratories, the CNRS is involved in 20 of the 29 Carnot Institutes, and 7 of the 9 Associated structures.

Carnot institutes network website

A specialist in innovative materials (in French)

The MICA Carnot Institute contributes its expertise in innovative materials for the benefit of companies. From basic research to industrial applications, companies receive assistance throughout the value chain for their projects in the fields of health, transportation, and construction. The director of MICA, Cathie Vix-Guterl, received the CNRS 2016 Medal of Innovation.

Visit the MICA Carnot institute website


Other national technology transfer and innovation mechanisms

The CNRS is involved in many of the 62 mechanisms supporting innovation in France, including France Brevets, competitiveness clusters, seed funding, Equipment of Excellence (Equipex), Laboratories of Excellence (Labex) and Excellence Initiatives (Idex), research alliances, University Hospital Institutes (IHU), and Institutes for Energy Transition (ITE).