Franco-British cooperation: a look back at the 2nd Workshop of the CNRS-Imperial College London international research centre

Publié le 06 mai 2024
Une délégation du CNRS, menée par son PDG Antoine Petit, s’est rendue à Londres les 23 et 24 avril, afin de participer au 2nd workshop annuel du centre de recherche international (IRC) entre le CNRS et Imperial College London. Cette rencontre a notamment été l’occasion pour les deux institutions de dresser un bilan de leurs coopérations et d’évoquer les ambitions et perspectives pour les collaborations futures bilatérales et tournées vers Horizon Europe.

Inaugurated in 2022, the CNRS-Imperial International Research Centre (IRC) is the first structure of its kind to be created by the CNRS in Europe. Focusing on transformational science and technology, this IRC will enable the CNRS and its partner to strengthen their collaboration, in particular through the training of early-career researchers, the funding of research projects and networks, and the sharing of facilities, laboratories, infrastructure and expertise.

CNRS – Imperial College: cooperating for the benefit of society

The first IRC workshop, held in Paris in 2023, identified cross-cutting themes for collaboration in the health, sustainability and connectivity sectors, with the aim of addressing the major societal challenges of our time. Under the impulse of this first meeting, new co-operations linked to these three major orientations have been created, including a new international research network focused on sustainable computing (GOLDMINE network) in January 2024, while a new international engineering laboratory (ABEL) whose core concerns will be sustainable development is planned for 2025. Sandrine Heutz and Emmanuel Brouillet, scientific directors of the IRC, welcomed these advances, pointing out that these projects were the latest in a series of fruitful collaborations between the CNRS and Imperial, such as the Quantum Fields and Strings network, which combines physics and mathematics, the international research project on metabolic diseases (Integrative Metabolism – Omics data) and the Abraham de Moivre International Mathematical Sciences Research Laboratory, whose partnership has been renewed for five years.

Training the researchers of tomorrow

Several years ago, the CNRS and Imperial set up a PhD joint programme, which is one of the cornerstones of the collaboration between the two partners. Around fifty PhD students have taken part in this programme, which aims to train the next generation of scientists and build bridges and interactions between research areas and institutions. At the recent workshop, some of these students presented their research projects and took part in discussions on the development of the IRC. New joint PhD projects between Imperial and the CNRS were also announced, covering topics ranging from Arctic climate and batteries to bioengineering, metabolism and mathematics.

A relationship focused on Europe

This annual workshop was the first to be held since the UK joined Horizon Europe, Europe’s 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Chairmen Antoine Petit and Hugh Brady welcomed this rapprochement, underlining the crucial importance of international and European collaboration for global research. The two partners reiterated their ambition to continue to be involved in projects funded by the European Union. Together, Imperial and CNRS have already collaborated on 56 projects under H2020, the previous European funding programme, and on 17 projects to date under Horizon Europe.

This dynamic between the two institutions also benefits from a favourable political context between France and the UK, as demonstrated by the recent visit by the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, Sylvie Retailleau, to Imperial College London as part of the Franco-British Joint Committee for Science and Technology held in February.

120 years of the Franco-British entente cordiale

At the signing of the renewal of the Abraham de Moivre Laboratory at the Residence of France, Minister Counsellor Sébastien Bidaud pointed out that 2024 marked the 120th anniversary of the entente cordiale between the two countries, and that the harmonious collaboration between Imperial and the CNRS is a perfect example of this. In order to support the dynamism of this cooperation, the French Embassy in the United Kingdom has opened a post of International Technical Expert (ETI) to support the coordination of the International Research Centre. The ETI’s remit will be to support the development of the International Research Centre, to support the creation of joint CNRS-Imperial teams as part of Horizon Europe and to strengthen contacts and collaborations with third countries.








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