After adopting a policy to promote socio-economic partnerships and innovation in 2015, the Department of Partnership, Transfer, and Innovation (DPTI) implemented an action plan to organise the efforts of the Inra community at operational level.
The aim is to promote and broaden the Institute's innovation potential by combining disciplines, developing working partnerships with stakeholders in various sectors and regions, promoting its infrastructures, and targeting priority areas of innovation.
Innovation at Inra consists of 4 orientations and 12 actions
1 - Efforts organised according to the 17 areas of innovation
[in French only]
- Create and develop areas of innovation to structure the dialogue with socio-economic stakeholders and promote research proposals.
- Report on the areas of innovation that constitute the guiding themes of the Institute's communication on partnership and innovation activities.
2 - Openness to partnerships for collaborative innovation
- Develop innovation-oriented partnerships and projects with different levels of commitment that could provide impetus.
- Heighten the positive dynamic of the four Carnot Institutes led by Inra.
- Consolidate the partnership schemes making it possible to work together.
- Structure Inra’s involvement in innovation projects in collaboration with all actors of society.
3 - Diversified promotion
- Expand the transfer and promotion opportunities by encouraging scientists to register any exploitable inventive steps and heighten the diffusion of technology offers and expertise.
- Promote and support the creation and development of start-ups: 108 start-up [in French only] in 17 years, 41 companies created and still active.
4 - Culture of innovation and impact
- Offer training in approaches and tools for innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Assert the ethical framework.
- Spread the culture of impact by continuing case studies a posteriori within the context of Asirpa.
- Through appropriate criteria, recognise the involvement of the scientific and technical teams as well as those involved in research support.
> Practical example no 1: four Carnot institutes coordinated by Inra for partner-based research activities and examples of business innovation initiatives
The Carnot institutes are public research structures accredited by the ministry of research. These structures are strongly committed to conducting and developing partner-based research activities for business innovation - from SME to large corporations - and socio-economic stakeholders.
The four Carnot Institutes coordinated by Inra facilitate and spur collaboration between researchers and industrial partners. Encouraged by the National Research Agency (ANR) and the General Commissariat for Investment, they have joined competitive clusters and are potential key partners in the deployment of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) being developed throughout Europe and in which INRA is a stakeholder.
With the aim of consolidating these partnership schemes, Inra is concurrently developing other ways of fostering joint projects with socio-economic partners on the same site and the same topic. Examples include joint technological units, living-labs, business chairs, and joints laboratories.
Like the Carnot institutes, these schemes aim to improve the pertinence of partnership projects, the transfer of knowledge and their adaptation to innovations, and develop the skills of those involved.
In 2015, Inra adopted a start-up support policy, thus paving the way for a new form of economic promotion of research findings. It also serves to support innovation, promote the success of these young companies, and create jobs.
> Practical example no 2: two subsidiaries to promote and protect Inra innovations
Since publishing its intellectual property charter in 2003, and in keeping with its public service role, Inra has been involved in the management of this open heritage. Consequently, it has created two private companies over which it retains complete control and that it uses to transfer innovations of industrial and commercial significance (including the negotiation of license agreements).
- Inra Transfert to promote the many different forms of INRA's expertise through the transfer of agronomic research findings to the private sector;
- Agri-Obtentions to promote and protect new plant varieties developed by Inra.
> Practical example no 3: ASIRPA, more than 40 case studies that have had an impact on society
Developed by researchers at Inra, the purpose of the ASIRPA approach (Analysis of the Impacts of Public Agronomic Research) is to assess the socio-economic impact of research at institutional level. A pilot approach was developed as part of a research project, validated by international publications, and implemented for the assessment of several Inra research departments (40 case studies).
The ASIRPA approach is based on case studies conducted according to standardised methods and the use of three analytical tools: a chronology, an impact pathway, and an impact vector. This standardisation offers the possibility of a cross-sectional, cluster analysis to derive information Institution-wide.
> Practical example no 4: two new actions in 2017 assert Inra's position in innovation
One-day educational events on innovation and promoting research findings entitled “Faire fructifier mes travaux et résultats de recherche" [Getting the most out of my research work and results] were established in 2017. Proposed in each Inra centre, these events provide the opportunity for discussions between researchers and the partnership and transfer department and include a training session on the disclosure of inventions and exploitable results, time dedicated to experience feedback, and individual meetings between researchers and people in charge of research support, innovation specialists.
Inra's board of directors adopted the policy to support and invest in young companies at the end of 2017. Today, events entitled "Venez prendre la route de l’entrepreneuriat" [Join the road to entrepreneurship] are regularly held in all the Inra centres to inform Inra researchers and engineers about business start-ups.
> Practical example no 5: promoting inra employee involvement
Inra wishes to support its innovation policy by promoting the involvement of its employees in partnerships and innovation, paying special attention to the various sections and criteria mentioned in the assessment reports during individual and group assessments.
Training initiatives are being concomitantly deployed for all those involved in innovation (especially partnership project design managers) to assert and reinforce their fields of expertise.