International Partnerships Team : Inria Support for Research and Innovation Award

Changed on 02/01/2020
In 2013, the team responsible for the European Research Area received the Inria Support for Research and Innovation Award. Four years later, and following a merger with the institute's International Relations department, the new European and International Partnerships Department (EIPD) is rewarded through international partnership officers Angélica Biard, Tania Castro and Laura Norcy, as well as Julie Pomponne, management assistant for the whole of the DPEI.
© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

The roadmap of the European and International Partnerships Department (EIPD) is a vast one. “It involves facilitating the scientific, industrial and institutional relations developed with numerous organisations in Europe and worlwide and enabling the institute to benefit from the financing of the European framework programme Horizon 2020 ”, Thierry Priol, director of European and International Partnerships, summarises. The EIPD is responsible for the implementation of the institute's European and international strategy. “On a day-to-day basis, our activities address pluralist issues since we contribute to the institute's international influence and to the strengthening of its scientific potential whilst facilitating the mobility of the researchers, whether from Inria or from organisations with which we cooperate.

Contributing to Inria's international influence..

On the influence/scientific strengthening side, the EIPD relies in particular on the ‘Associate Teams’, which bring together researchers from Inria and elsewhere around joint projects. “We currently have 89 Associate Teams, almost half of which are with North America. Each team is established for a period of three years, renewable once, and granted a total budget of €30-50,000 ”, Thierry Priol explains. “Many of them are currently grouped together within International Labs; laboratories we have started to put in place in order to provide structure to our strong collaborations abroad.

True partnership platforms adapted to the realities and specific contexts in which they are established, the International Labs enable the supervision and financing of the collaborations developed with foreign organisations through the mobilisation of the various tools available to the EIPD: Associate Teams, sabbaticals stays, International Chairs, postdocs and internships. There are currently seven International Labs: in Chile (Inria Chile), China (Sino-European Laboratory in Computer Science, Automation and Applied Mathematics - LIAMA), the United States (Joint Laboratory for Extreme Scale Computing - JLESC - and Inria@SiliconValley), Africa (International Laboratory for Research in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics - LIRIMA), Switzerland with the Swiss research institute École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and, more recently, in the Netherlands with the national research institute Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica(CWI).

...and researcher mobility

On the mobility front, the cluster's activities revolve around three main schemes: on the one hand, the sabbatical programme for Inria researchers - with around 50 stays of between six and 12 months funded over the period 2013-2016 - and, on the other hand, international chairs and internships. “The latter two tools make it possible to enrich Inria's 'portfolio' of talent and expertise ”, Thierry Priol explains. With the implementation of international chairs, Inria is thereby encouraging long stays by eminent international researchers within its project teams. The Internship programme, for its part, aims to strengthen Inria's scientific collaborations through welcoming and training outstanding students from partner institutions.

A set of tools that are in high demand...for a small and very active team! Each partnership officer is in charge of a specific geographical area that, as a result, benefit from their expertise: Asia, Oceania and Russia for Angélica Biard, the United States and Latin America for Tania Castro and Africa, the Middle East and Canada for Laura Norcy in addition to bilateral relations with Europe. Moreover, they manage the programmes developed by Inria in order to strengthen its international partnerships. Laura Norcy therefore deals with international chairs and the sabbatical programme, whilst Angélica Biard manages the Associate Team programme. Julie Pomponne, EIPD management assistant, not only ensures the smooth administrative and financial running of the entire department, but also provides assistance to the partnership officers with the implementation of their different projects, in particular with regard to logistical aspects. Julie Pomponne is also in charge of the Internships programme and the monitoring of the postdocs allocated to support the International Labs.

The entire international partnerships team has also worked in close collaboration with Inria's Information Systems department (in particular Caroline Laury - SEISM) in the development and implementation of an internal information system - DRISI - enabling the management, via an online platform, of the different EIPD programmes.

From contracts to exchanges with partners, to seeking financing, monitoring the activity of the International Labs, the development of communication materials or the organisation of scientific workshops and exploring new opportunities for collaboration - international partnerships could not be more dynamic , Thierry Priol explains. However, these diverse missions have a common goal: we want to be catalysts and facilitators serving the institute's researchers. We are very proud that this commitment has today been recognised  by the Inria Award.


Angélica Biard, international partnerships officer for Asia, Russia and Oceania
I am motivated, on a daily basis, by the interaction with foreign partners and overcoming cultural specificities in order to achieve a common goal. Despite the differences between countries, our role is to find a common ground that is favourable to all of the partners, whilst defending Inria's interests. Perseverance and building trusting relationships with foreign partners make it possible to cross the cultural and administrative borders that can sometimes seem insurmountable. The programme with the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in India is a good example of a project where coordination has been vital, just like the renewal of our cooperations with China, Inria's historical and strategic partner, via LIAMA. We have succeeded in developing a lasting and fruitful relationship with these partners. At the EIPD our work is cross-disciplinary, which enables us not only to interact with the different departments and services of Inria, but also to be in touch with the institute's core mission - research and technology transfer - whilst promoting Inria's activity to the world.”
Tania Castro, international partnerships officer for the United States and Latin America
“Every international project represents a new challenge! For me, Inria Chile and Inria@SiliconValley are wonderful achievements. In the space of five years, Inria Chile has become a renowned technology transfer centre in Chile. Inria@SiliconValley which, for its part, was launched in 2011 on the basis of existing collaborations between Inria and the universities of UC Berkeley and Stanford, has rapidly spread to all of our partners in California. Having first collaborated with Christine Morin, then Valérie Issarny - scientific coordinators of the programme - we worked to structure these cooperations and support new ambitious projects, while giving better visibilty to these activities. We have come a long way since! Over 30 joint research projects (Associate Teams), stays by Inria researchers on sabbaticals stays of Inria researchers in California, the welcoming of Inria international chairs, the employment of postdoctoral researchers, the organisation of annual workshops and themed conferences, the creation of a website and the distribution of a monthly newsletter... Our work as International Partnership Officers is very versatile and rewarding on a personal level. Morever, it gives us the opportunity to contribute to the international influence of the scientific and academic excellence of France!'”
Laura Norcy, international partnerships officer for Africa, the Middle East, Canada and Europe
"I joined the team in 2013, after having been a management assistant at Inria for 10 years. The institute thereby enabled my desire for a career change to come true. Today, I really enjoy setting up international projects with partners from several continents. With Africa and Canada, for example, I have the opportunity to work in contexts - and with methodologies - that are very different. Diversity is a motivating factor. It is also satisfying to complete projects and then implement their evolution. This was the case, for example, with LIRIMA, which was renewed for four years following a positive assessment in 2014. Receiving this award is a significant professional recognition. There are numerous prizes awarded in the scientific community, but those for the support functions are less common. This shows that, at our level, we too are contributing to achieving the common goals of the institute. It is also important that the award is a collective one; it underlines the dynamism and cohesion of our team.”




Julie Pomponne, EIPD management assistant
As an assistant, I am at the heart of discussions and decisions. I can best collaborate with my colleagues in the organisation of important events such as seminars and workshops, whilst taking part in the implementation of the international strategy. I also ensure the monitoring and management of two programmes: the postdoctoral researcher programme in support of the International Labs and the Internships programme. The latter enables us to welcome students enrolled in a foreign university wishing to carry out an internship or research period within an Inria project team. The partners of this programmes are the most prestigious universities or research institutions throughout the world. I have participated in the development of the Internships Programme by getting in touch with the foreign partners in order to promote it and select the best students. For me, receiving the Inria Support for Research and Innovation Award is true professional recognition after 10 years spent at Inria. Above all, it is a wonderful collective honour, and I am delighted that the solidity and dynamism of our team has been highlighted in this way.”


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