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Inria Lille - Nord Europe


Inria in Lille: creator of jobs and a regional driving force for innovation in the digital sciences

© Alice Decarpigny / Inria

For almost 15 years now, Inria has invested in the Hauts-de-France region in order to develop internationally-renowned research of excellence in the field of digital sciences, with a technology transfer mission towards the regional ecosystem. This investment takes place mainly via the recruitment of high-level researchers.

A recruitment policy of excellence  

Since its creation in 2002 and its presence in Haute-Borne (Villeneuve d'Ascq) since 2008, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research center has developed by conducting a high-level scientific recruitment policy. Each year, Inria makes available around thirty researcher positions via open competition spread across its eight research centers, based on their aims, potential and the overall strategy of the institute. The candidate selection process is rigorous and selective. The quality, impact and potential of their research are assessed by an eligibility panel then by an admissions panel comprising internal and external experts. Over the last three years, the number of positions filled through open competition at the Inria Lille - Nord Europe center has been exceptional compared to the national average (two to four posts per center): five in 2014, five in 2015 and four in 2016.

The top 50!

The Inria Lille - Nord Europe research center has attracted 41 researchers and nine senior research scientists in 14 years. These include 39 men and 11 women, 45% of whom have been recruited over the last four years. The variety of the profiles and the richness of career paths play a part in reinforcing scientific emulation, and contribute to well-being and the quality of the professional environment at the center. Of these 50 scientists, 11 nationalities are represented, adding to the 30 or so others across the whole center.

36 of the 50 scientists recruited are spread evenly across six research themes: software engineering, automation-robotics, man-machine interaction, the Internet of Things, digital optimization and simulation. The 14 others work on a seventh theme: data processing. These themes are today at the heart of current developments facing society and the economic world.

This significant number reflects both the long-standing expertise of Lille-based scientists in these subjects and Inria's voluntarist action taking into account related socio-economic issues. The center project teams working on this subject are some of the most reputed in the world.  This recognition was notably reflected by the organization, in 2015, of a key event for the Machine Learning community: the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), which took place in France for the first time in its history. More than 1,700 people attended the event at the Grand Palais in Lille in 2015.

The vast majority of the 50 scientists recruited are still at Inria. The others are continuing their careers within major groups such as Allianz, Huawei, Adobe and Google, or at universities in France and abroad (Canada, Spain, Japan, etc.).  

Some testimonials from the 50 scientists

For you, the Inria Lille-Nord Europe research center is... 

  • "The opportunity for me to have started off in an environment that encourages young people and women."
  •  "A community of researchers with an international influence, to which I was fortunate to belong during its early years."
  • "A research center where you feel comfortable, and supported: very welcoming, dynamic and young, offering great support to the various initiatives put forward by the researchers."
  • "The opportunity to begin my career as a permanent researcher in the best French team for my research interests."
  • "A driving force so that our research has an impact and so that the Nord region of France comes out stronger and more creative."
  • "A warm and welcoming research center".

An exceptional ecosystem that contributes to its attractiveness

The development of Inria in Lille has always been supported by the regional authorities, which have played a part in its influence. Inria has forged strategic partnerships with the region's universities, research bodies and "grandes écoles" (higher education establishments), and acts as a catalyst in the IDEX Université Lille Nord - Europe scientific excellence cluster.

Inria also maintains a permanent dialog with socio-economic actors in the Hauts-de-France region.  One of the Lille center's main objectives is to continue developing activities in partnership with regional industrialists and innovation actors, echoing the "Lille is French Tech" dynamic. Four start-ups have been created by the center's research project teams.

Moreover, the importance for InriaTech of linking companies and academic research, together with this regional dynamic, has led to the creation, in Lille, of InriaTech - the first technological transfer platform. It was set up in 2015 with the Métropole Européenne de Lille (European Metropolis of Lille), the Hauts-de-France regional council, and the ERDF. Building on this success, Inria is today replicating this model in its other centers.

This continued development since 2002 will also be become a reality when Inria sets up in a third building - the Place building located at EuraTechnologies, a symbol of "Lille is French Tech" - in 2018.

Inria, a French national research institute devoted to digital technology, promotes "scientific excellence in the service of technology transfer and society". Inria employs 2,700 staff from the world's top universities, who address the challenges of the computer sciences and mathematics. The institute is spread across France via its eight research centers.

The Inria Lille – Nord Europe research center, created in 2008, has 360 staff including 300 scientists across 17 research teams. Recognized for its high level of involvement in the socio-economic development of the Hauts-de-France region, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research center, alongside its academic, institutional and industrial partners, works on the major research and innovation projects in the field of digital technology.

Keywords: Inria Lille - Nord Europe research center