Irstea has inherited the research model finalised by Cemagref, with the aim of reinforcing and developing it.
Centred on scientific research that aims to produce concrete solutions to aid government decisions and that leads to action (or “finished research”), the Irstea model rests on four fundamental parameters:
- Partner research with a strong technological and methodological component, based on the collaborative construction of scientific questions with various economic participants. As the holder of numerous research agreements and contracts with companies and because of its involvement in competitive clusters and commitment to transferring work through the support or creation of innovative companies, Irstea has seen its partnership activity recognised with the award of the Carnot label in 2006, renewed in 2011.
- Research that supports public policy through strong cooperative links between Irstea and the Ministries for the Environment and Agriculture, regional authorities and devolved government services. The institute also has research agreements with agencies such as ONEMA (the French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments), ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency), ANSES (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety) or with government bodies such as DATAR (Delegation for Territorial Planning and Regional Action).
Scientific cooperation with research bodies and universities which is expressed:
- through multiple collaborations between researchers working on projects or contracts and researchers from partner organisations, or through bilateral framework agreements. Several themes (reduction of risks linked to pesticides, biomass management in terms of energy exploitation) are the subject of a focused research strategy with CIRAD (Centre for Agricultural Research for Development) and INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) as well as CNRS (French National Scientific Research Centre) and INRIA (Inventors for the Digital World);
- within research and higher education teaching centres (PRES) near the institute’s geographical installations throughout the country;
- through its links with the “Life and Environmental Science and Technology” (STVE) centres of expertise and technical centres;
- and, since February 2009, through the creation of the National alliance for environmental research, AllEnvi.
- A European and international setting, particularly with regard to involvement in European environmental research networks (such as PEER or EurAcqua) and in the evaluation of European public policy and numerous exchanges and collaborations with research establishments around the world (in Canada, Australia and Brazil).
The Irstea model: some results
At European level
The collaborative approach launched in 2001 with six European research organisations within the PEER (Partnership for European Environmental Research) network enabled Irstea to position itself among the organisations that obtain the best results for European calls for tenders.
- In this way, Irstea directly contributed to the considerations of the Commission on the subject of water and the environment during the development of the 7th FPRD (Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development), resulting in a 33% success rate for published calls for tender.
- The Institute and its European partners also make key contributions to publications delivered to the European Commission. Of note are the reports on the “adaptation to climate change and the formulation of new policies across Europe” and on “the spatial evaluation of ecosystem services”.