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Developing synergies between private enterprise and public research

Laurent Cousin

The FutuRIS work group has published a report containing 31 recommendations aiming to develop synergies between private enterprise and public research. Over one-third of them pertain to PhDs and doctoral students.

How can private enterprise and public research work together more efficiently? Such is the question tackled by the FutuRIS work group on striking a balance between public and private that met from October 2006 to June 2007 and which handed in a report entitled "Entreprise et recherche publique: développer les synergies" (Private Enterprise and Public Research: Developing Synergy).

 PhD students and PhDs are clearly crucial to research-private enterprise relations since over one-third of the recommendations pertain to them:

- Strengthen and clarify the selection policy of PhD students upon enrollment: The authors of the report recommend that doctoral schools "complete, specify and clarify the admission criteria for doctoral students," particularly as regards 'the doctoral school's profile and strategy."

- Organize  pre-doctoral modules that include an introduction to training through research and its perspectives, exchanges between students, teaching researchers and professionals as well as student counseling as regards their personal and professional career plans.

- Create an "innovation - enterprise" label for certain doctoral schools to guarantee the certain skills deemed useful in the corporate world are acquired.

- Fill out fact forms concerning the skills expected to be acquired in the national register of professional certification (RNCP) for the doctoral degree in order to obtain recognition for the professional nature of the PhD.

- Encourage partnerships between doctoral schools and companies
as well as with other higher education and research institutions (management schools, business schools, engineering schools, etc.)

- Set up "Professoriales." To be modeled after the Doctoriales program started by Association Bernard Gregory and the Ministry of Defense 15 years ago for PhD students, the committee members recommend actions to make teaching researchers conscious and knowledgeable about the various aspects of company life: technology, economics, human resources, sustainable development, etc.

- Encourage the carrying out of theses proposed and co-supervised by business
such as the Industrial Agreements for Training through Research (CIFRE) scheme.

- Promote the awarding of PhD status through experiential graduate credit.

- Create an Industrial Contract for PhDs in Business to foster the employment of young PhDs in the corporate world and further mutual understanding between public and private research in the context of three-way collaboration (PhD/company/skill center).

- Better define and promote “scientist-researcher" pairings in the International Company Volunteer (VIE) program to promote the integration of young PhDs in French companies abroad.

- Provide professional integration support for PhDs (and develop career follow-up)
. The authors of the report recommend that doctoral school heads encourage research supervisors to take a serious interest in their PhD students' future.

FutuRIS is the forecasting platform for the French National Association for Technical Research (ANRT) whose mission is to place development of the French system of research and innovation in perspective (SFRI). FutuRIS is supported by several outside contributors (companies, ministries, agencies, research institutions), and enjoys the support of the French Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Technology.

"Entreprise et recherche publique: développer les synergies", Final report by the FutuRIS "Adéquation public - privé" work group, April 2008, 62 pages.
The report is available on the ANRT website.