Innovation by and for research

INSU laboratories design the tools required for researchers' work. Innovation thus results from research carried out in laboratories. As a logical part of its prospective studies, the Institute steers the instrumental research and innovation which are essential to respond to the scientific and technical challenges of the future.

Science cannot exist without technology

The quality of research is intrinsically linked to innovation. At the INSU, innovation stems from the requirements of the Institute's scientific work. In both astrophysics and the geosciences, scientific effectiveness is closely linked to technological performance whether this involves observation, terrestrial, underwater, airborne or space instrumentation.

Designing research tools

NSU researchers design missions and instrumentation for space agencies as well as measurement devices for large ground-based observation infrastructures. They implement the high-performance computing resources which are required to model, operate and archive databases. The demands of observation and measurement requirements mean the Institute's teams often work in close collaboration with their academic partners at the CNRS, other French and foreign research organizations and also with industry. The depth of these collaboration projects is shown in the integrated teams involved which includ all the actors required to carry out successful major R&D or implementation projects.

Innovation and interdisciplinarity

The INSU's scientific approaches are naturally multidisciplinary, and by its very nature, the Institute works continually in direct contact with technology developers. The intrinsically innovative nature of the INSU's research requires working on shared interdisciplinary questions with scientists and technologists from other fields. This results in mutual enrichment and the pursuit of common objectives with different intellectual cultures.

A virtuous circle

The INSU promotes an iterative process in which all those involved in innovation (scientists, technologists, business developers and institutions) create a fertile breeding ground for innovation in the Institute's target areas or for dual applications which themselves generate new approaches. The objective of this strategy is to set up long-term research platforms involving both industry and research based on the INSU's core research areas. These platforms serve as a bridge between industry and the Institute to work on joint scientific projects. These involve topics with a strong economic and social impact, to facilitate exchanges of researchers between the academic world and industry and to enhance the position of the INSU and therefore the CNRS in today's globalized research world and in the framework of world-wide competition in research. This process includes very close relationships with leading industrial partners to promote innovations from laboratories and also to push back the performance limits of existing technologies.

A partnership strategy with industry

A partnership strategy and innovation are inherently inseparable because the former generates the latter. They both generate the development of long-term relationships creating communities of several hundred scientists from the academic and industrial spheres who together produce fundamental research.

In the last five years this strategy has led to multi-partner and multi-year agreements being signed to set up strategic research platforms involving both companies of international renown and dozens of research units. These have produced over 50 theses and 20 postdocs and represent consolidated budgets of nearly €100 million managed by the CNRS, other research organizations and our industrial partners.

Geodenergies: an Institute for Energy Transition for the use of carbon-free energy involving the subsoil

Geodenergies is one of the 7 Institutes for Energy Transition set up in the framework of the French Investments for the Future Programme. Geodenergies works on carbon-free geotechnologies and was co-led in its creation phase by the BRGM (Geological And Mining Research Bureau) and the INSU. It brings together 20 partners (13 industrial concerns and 7 CNRS laboratories) with a budget of 57 M€ over 9 years (16M€ from the Investments for the Future Programme).

  • 16 M€ of funding from the Investments for the Future Programme, 12 projects set up in 3 years
  • 20 partners (13 private, 7 public)
  • A Scientific Interest Group launched in September 2015 which was transformed into an Institute for Energy Transition at the end of 2018
  • 12 proposals: 7 projects underway, 3 approved, 2 rejected
  • 5 projects underway with CNRS Insu partner laboratories