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Strategic Plan


Inria unveils its 2018 – 2022 Scientific strategic plan

Produced and presented every five years, the Inria Scientific strategic plan reveals the impending main lines of research and the scientific ambitions of the institute over the coming years. In particular, it highlights several issues at the heart of Inria's concerns, such as the next generation of computer systems, augmented intelligence, the question of trust in a connected world, the understanding of natural processes and, more generally, aims to put humans back at the centre of digital technologies.

"This strategic vision enables Inria to contribute to the societal and economic challenges of our time, via its expertise in digital technology research ", comments François Sillion, Inria (interim) President and CEO. "Indeed, since scientific issues raise societal questions, and societal challenges in turn give rise to new research, the subjects of interest to our researchers evolve in symbiosis with society", he explains.

The aim of this sixth edition of the scientific strategic plan is therefore to set out the major lines of research, identify the main societal expectations that impact Inria's scientific activities, and present the challenges the institute intends to address from now until 2022.

Major research issues in the digital sciences...

Many aspects of our society are already deeply impacted by the digital evolution, and their transformation will intensify even further in the future: health, energy, security, environment, climate, transport, culture, economy, finance, food industry, etc.

Society has high expectations with regard to the aptitude of the digital sciences to provide new visions and solutions in these everyday fields. In order to have a measurable impact on the real world, Inria's approach is a combination of two ambitions: to understand the world (its problems, its systems) and to act on it (by proposing digital models, algorithms, software, technologies and solutions, and by furthering technology transfer).

Inria conducts work on the major research fields relevant to the digital sciences...

  • Algorithms and programming,
  • Data science and knowledge engineering,
  • Modelling and simulation,
  • Optimisation and control,
  • Architectures, systems and networks,
  • Security and confidentiality,
  • Interaction and multimedia,
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

The 184 project teams that make up the institute each have a well-defined objective, a multi-year scientific roadmap, as well as specific areas of application and appropriate partnerships.

Nonetheless, every one of this major fields of research is destined to evolve. Changes in the world of industry or new societal expectations can lead some of these activities to be redefined, realigned or to create synergies between these fields.

...reconciled with current societal challenges

Inria wishes to link its activities to societal transformations. It is essential for the institute to identify societal evolutions and the numerous questions they pose for the digital sciences, in such a way as to be able to address these questions by conducting appropriate research and disseminate its results. These questions will often be an opportunity for Inria's scientists to work with other partners (researchers from other scientific fields, specialists in the social and legal sciences, economists, philosophers, etc.). The aim of the institute is to anchor its research in society and encourage its scientists to reflect on these questions, as part of an open approach.

The scientific strategic plan therefore highlights certain issues bringing high expectations on the part of society, linked to its digital transformation.

Subsequently, Inria raises numerous questions that are both scientific and societal such as, for example, personal data and privacy protection. The fact that ever-increasing quantities of data are collected by various private and public entities represents both an opportunity and a threat for individual and collective rights. How can risks and benefits be assessed? How can we differentiate between fake news and corroborated information? What is neutrality? What are the educational issues for computer science? What are the contributions of digital technology in the fields of sustainable development or health? As for the quantum computer: how and when?

19 scientific challenges for the next five years

In order to make these questions more concrete, Inria has identified 19 scientific challenges - key elements of the strategic plan - it wishes to address over the coming years. These challenges, which are both current and relevant for the future, are the result of the correlation made between Inria's main fields of research and societal issues about digital technology. 
They do not reflect all of the active (or hot) topics of the digital sciences, or those on which the institute's researchers are working, but rather target a focused set of directions in which Inria wishes to make a contribution to significant progress. These challenges have been selected following in-depth discussions within the project teams, but also presented and debated with the institute's academic and industry partners.

They are organised around five main themes:

  • the computer of tomorrow: four challenges around new computing architectures, eternal software, extreme computing for data-intensive sciences and new quantum technologies;
  • augmented intelligence: three challenges around collaboration and trust between humans and artificial intelligence systems (AI), data science accessible to all and the importance of AI in the development of autonomous vehicles;
  • a reliable, connected world: four challenges around distributed systems without a central authority (blockchains), formal verification for connected cyberphysical devices and for cryptographic protocols, and to pave the way for safer and more reliable connected objects;
  • multi-scaling everywhere: four challenges around modelling and simulation on large time and space scales, with applications for systems biology, production control and energy consumption as well as global warming and the preservation of our environment;
  • a digital world centred on humans: four challenges around lifelong adaptive interactions between digital and robotic systems and humans, digital learning for teaching and training, the role of digital technology in the rehabilitation and autonomy of people affected by situations of fragility or disability and, more generally, so-called personalised medicine.

Keywords: Research Strategic plan