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1 billion to attract the best researchers to France

Laurent Cousin

It's definite, 11 billion euros of the national loan are earmarked for higher education, including 1 billion to strengthen France's attractiveness for top-level researchers and foster the return to France of French or foreign researchers who did their doctorate in France.

Last December 14, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his decisions regarding allocation of the national loan, fairly closely following the recommendations made by the Juppé-Rocard commission that had filed its conclusions in November.

One of the goals of national loan is the will to enhance France’s attractiveness for top-level researchers and foster the return of French or foreign researchers who did their doctorate in France.

This loan should enable the state to make available 35 billion euros in public funding and generate, via a leverage effect, a total of 60 billion euros of private and public investment. 11 billion euros will be devoted to higher education and training, and 8 billion to research. Out of this amount, one billion should strengthen France’s attractiveness for top-level researchers and foster the return of French or foreign researchers who did their doctorate in France.

The ANR at the heart of the system
To achieve these goals, the Commission plans to set up an "attractiveness fund for institutions of higher education and research" of 1 billion euros managed by the National Research Agency (ANR). The ANR will periodically make a competitive selection of institutions or education consortiums on the basis of a call for applications.

It will then notify the beneficiaries of a ceiling amount available over a number of years (for instance over four years) to fund scholarships for foreign researchers or post-docs who have left France and wish to return.

"The grants will be unconditional, the monies to be used over a maximum period of four years and can fund both a researcher’s salary, the cost of putting together a small team (laboratory technicians, doctoral students, post-doctoral students, etc.), small equipment if necessary, etc.," the report states.

Opportunities to be grasped
The remainder of the national loan will go to industry and SMEs (6.5 billion), digital resources (4.5 billion) and sustainable development (5 billion). 16 billion is earmarked for the development of life sciences, decarbonized energy and innovative SMEs. We can hope it will generate a host of opportunities for PhDs trained through research and open onto the world...
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