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What does innovation mean to your company and how does it impact your business strategy?

As the leading scientific and technological research organization in France and Europe, at the frontier of knowledge, the CNRS was established to carry out research. Performed by more than 1,000 units throughout France and abroad, this research improves knowledge, some of which results in breakthrough innovation. Technology transfer is a logical extension of our research activities, entrusted to more than 30,000 staff and partly led in partnership with industry (100 public/private structures) – whether it be large corporations (23 ongoing framework agreements) or SMEs (17 joint laboratories) – as well as with the socio-economic world (local authorities etc.). The CNRS innovation and transfer strategy is based, among other things, on the protection of its research results (4,535 active patent families), licensing (1,237 active licenses) and the creation of businesses (representing more than 7,000 new jobs), some of which are listed on the Stock Exchange in France or internationally (7 companies are on the stock market).

How do you encourage and instill a culture of innovation within your organization?

We encourage innovation within the CNRS through various initiatives. We train new recruits in technology transfer and organize training in setting up a business. The CNRS also seeks to promote its innovation strategy by awarding Medals of Innovation each year since 2010. Seven prestigious researchers-innovators have thus been distinguished for their exceptional scientific research that has led to technological, therapeutic or societal breakthoughs, thus promoting French scientific research. Two of them, Patrick Couvreur and Ludwig Leibler, were subsequently named "Inventor of the Year" by the European Patent Office. We have launched a pre-maturation scheme, with a dedicated annual budget of 2 million euros, to identify emerging projects that can lead to breakthrough innovation, and support them in the first development stages. The CNRS takes the risk of supporting these projects in the upstream phase. We encourage laboratory-industry interaction, in particular by organizing forums. Our "Car of the Future" symposium in March this year brought together more than 200 participants, including 50% from industry, and enabled us to develop our collaboration with the economic sector. The next forum will focus on big data. The CNRS is involved in many research partnerhips with industry to help advance research and support innovation. These collaborations led to the signing of more than 390 joint industrial property agreements.

What is it like to lead one of the world’s top 100 most innovative companies?

Being a part of the Clarivate Analytics Top 100 Global Innovators program for the fifth consecutive year, is an important recognition of CNRS’s innovation capactities Our organization is committed to contributing to national wealth and creating new jobs through the launch of startups based on research from our laboratories, as well as developing innovative businesses.

What do you consider to be your most innovative assets?

The greatest strength of the CNRS lies in its researchers and engineers, whose work and know-how can lead to future innovation. The organization's interdisciplinary approach further increases this strength.