The Lille centre celebrates its 10th anniversary
With Inria having just celebrated its 50 years, this time 2018 marks the anniversary of another important stage in the institute's history, the 10th anniversary of the creation of the three research centres: Lille - Nord Europe, Saclay Île-de-France and Bordeaux – Sud-Ouest.
From 1980 to 2000, the rapid growth of Inria
During this period, the institute built a model based on the excellence of its research with a constant view to transferring technology to industry. Firmly rooted at the heart of the local industry and academic ecosystems, Inria had already built a national network with five research centres: Rocquencourt, Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble.
Moreover, Inria became increasingly involved in the European Research Area. With its international outlook, it participated in the influence of the digital sciences in the world. Inria - convinced that the future of our societies is a digital one - placed its research at the heart of the major societal issues. Inria now had clear aims and a solid international reputation.
The birth of "Futurs"
In June 2001, the institute's growth prospects led its Board of Directors to determine the policies that would guide its geographical development across the national territory over the coming years. It therefore devised a development plan that would see Inria open a new research unit in the Paris area and two new regional research units. The Saclay plateau site, in partnership with Paris-Sud University and the École polytechnique, and the university campuses of Bordeaux-Talence and Lille-Villeneuve d'Ascq were pinpointed for these future research units. In order to carry out this gradual geographical roll-out, a specific research unit called "Futurs" was created in 2002.
This name can be seen as the acronym of "Futures URs" or "Futures unités de recherche" [Future research units]; in its plural version it also underlines the fact that the mission of this unit was to prepare for a future which - at this stage - was still very open.
Its mission was to develop new dynamics around these new sites in Bordeaux, Lille and Saclay, closely linked to the partners in the regions concerned. Its operation was, on many levels, similar to that of the five existing units: like the others, it had a research unit director who was a member of the institute's management team, a projects committee responsible for the scientific facilitation and monitoring of the projects linked to this unit, and it had its own staff and resources.
However, it was also different in other aspects, as it had to put in place specific modes of operation due to the distribution of its research projects across three geographical hubs. Another challenge it had to address was to establish itself as a true research unit bringing together new projects, almost all of which would be in the creation and then the "step-up" phase, all the while accepting its transitional vocation and its multi-localised character.
Bernard Larrouturou, who was Inria chairman and CEO at the time, entrusted the management of the Futurs research unit to Claude Puech, professor at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble. A scientist who was internationally renowned for the quality of his contributions in the field of algorithmics and image synthesis, Claude Puech also had extensive experience in the management of research teams and relations between research organisations and schools and universities.
Subsequently, Futurs presented itself as an example of what Inria had been doing for over 20 years regionally, and as a projection of its future territorial distribution.
2008 saw the official creation of the three research centres: Bordeaux – Sud-Ouest, Lille – Nord Europe and Saclay – Île-de-France.