Sites Inria

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The centre in brief...

Bâtiments de l'INRIA Sophia Antipolis © INRIA / Photo S. Ephraim

Inria established itself on the Sophia Antipolis site in 1981, when the new science park was still in the early stages, with many more facilities still to be built. In a few years, it became one of the leading players of this science park.

From Sophia to the Mediterranean

The change in the Centre's name in 2008, from "Sophia Antipolis" to "Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée", illustrates the regional development that has led it to expand from its initial 7-hectare site with 18,000 m2 of buildings, extending its activities to Montpellier and Bologna. This development bears witness to the centre's desire to establish other partnerships as appropriate within the Mediterranean basin.

The centre today

Currently, the centre comprises:

  • 600 people, including 400 on the Inria payroll.
  • working within about 35 research teams: 29 within Inria premises at Sophia Antipolis, 5 in Montpellier and 1 in Bologna (Italy).
  • Nearly half of these teams are joint teams with one or more partners (Universities of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Montpellier and Bologna,  CNRS - the French National Centre for Scientific Research, INRA - the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, CIRAD - a French research centre working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues, ENS, etc.), which are most often considered by the partners as teams within joint research units (I3S, LIRMM, LJAD, Labex, etc.).
  • about a hundred  people working within the centre's management team and its eight departments, including around forty participating directly in the scientific and technological production of the research teams.
  • Its action has permitted the creation of 16 start-ups, including 7 since 2000.


Relying on the quality of the scientists of its 38 research teams and its research support personnel, the Centre aims to pursue an extensive and effective partnership within the networks of academic and economic players (teaching and research institutions, businesses, associations, local and regional authorities) of the territories in which it has a significant presence. This desire to participate in and enrich these networks of players embodies our ambition to strengthen the attractiveness of these territories in order to make them places of excellence in the conduct of ICST research and also generate positive knock-on effects in terms of jobs and wealth creation.

A little history...

After Rocquencourt and Rennes, in 1981 [1], Inria established a third site: Sophia Antipolis, in the heart of a new science park, a result of the visionary spirit of Pierre Laffitte, then the director of Ecole des Mines de Paris. This was the era of pioneers. At this time, the science park was a major natural location with few establishments. Pierre Bernhard was the first head of the Centre (1981-1996), followed by Marc Berthod (1996-2001), Michel Cosnard (2001-2006), and lastly Gérard Giraudon (2006 to present). Gilles Kahn, Inria researcher, then head of a former IPT (CROAP) and Chairman of the Projects Committee alongside Pierre Bernhard, was also one of the chief architects of the Centre's initial success.

[1] Officially, the Centre was inaugurated in 1983.

Keywords: Inria Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée Milestones History of Inria