Inra-Irstea: working towards a single organization by January 1, 2020

On October 17, 2018, Philippe Mauguin, President and CEO of Inra, and Marc Michel, President and CEO of Irstea, presented Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and Didier Guillaume, Minister of Agriculture and Food, a progress report relating to the creation of a single research organization combining both Inra and Irstea by January 1, 2020.

Based on the complementary nature of the subjects and skills within both Inra and Irstea, the aim of the future organization is to become a global leader in public research in the fields of agriculture, food and the environment to meet the significant social challenges of the future, including food and nutritional security, environmental health, agroecology, natural and ecosystem (water, soil, forest, etc.) resource management, biodiversity erosion, circular economy and natural hazards on a regional scale.

Specific proposals have been submitted to the ministers in order to create this new Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishment (EPST). To meet global challenges and improve its appeal, the future organization will use targeted research, combining basic and applied, single and multidisciplinary research. This research will support public policies; it will be used to conduct high-level expert assessments and develop innovative projects.

Combining scientific and technical skills and sharing research infrastructure and data will lead to the production of scientific knowledge that meets the highest international standards of quality as well as promoting open science, involving free distribution of and access to research results. This new organization will also be a driving force in creating a regional research structure while participating in the momentum of French institutions of higher education, research and innovation.

The report delivered to the ministers proposes an organization that is scientific, regional, and provides support services. It will be discussed with social partners over the coming months to ensure the new organization is operational by January 1, 2020.

To ensure the transition phase is successful and support the teams through the change, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation has announced an initial budget of 4 million euros.

Seven new departments comprising one research unit each from Irstea and Inra will be created to strengthen research in the following fields:

  • Agroecological and digital transition in agriculture;
  • Aquatic environments and the management of associated risks;
  • Management of generally undisturbed continental ecosystems;
  • Economic and social changes to agriculture, food and food processing industries;
  • Data science and artificial intelligence, robot and sensor technologies;
  • Support for transitions and regional management;
  • Bioeconomy and bioresources.