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Visiting Committee

20/02/2009

The Inria Evaluation Report was submitted to the Minister of Research

The Visiting Committee, comprised of international specialists responsible for evaluating the Institute has just submitted its report. The committee produced a strategic and organizational analysis that found Inria to be especially worthy of praise. It has also issued a series of recommendations that constitute significant challenges for the Institute for the future.

On Friday, February 20, in Paris, Jean-Claude Latombe, President of the Visiting Committee, and Michel Cosnard officially presented the Inria External Evaluation Report to Valérie Pécresse, Minister of Research.
This report consolidates the analyses done by this group of high-level specialists comprised of leading figures from prestigious international universities or institutions and one industry representative. The committee met from December 18 to 20, 2008, to analyze and evaluate the operations, activity and strategic planning of the Institute. This type of external evaluation has been included in Inria’s operations since 2002 and the Institute thus serves as a precursor. The evaluation’s main concern is with how research is organised within the Institute. During two days of investigations, the presentations and discussions that took place concerned the Institute’s strategic planning, organisation, growth, academic and industrial partnerships, its research work and its technology transfer policy. These thus constitute a milestone report on the Institute's progress in the context of its four-year contract with the government.
The report compares Inria to research institutes worldwide in the field of ICST and has clearly ranked it among the best.
“The report represents an objective assessment of our system of research. All of Inria’s indicators have shown improvement. I am extremely pleased and offer my sincere congratulations to the Institute,” stated Valérie Pécresse during her concluding remarks.

In brief, the conclusions of the 2008 report

The analysis in a nutshell
  • Inria has successfully managed the priorities in its 2003-2007 Strategic Plan. It has made good progress toward achieving most of the objectives set out in its 2006-2009 four-year contract.
  • The Institute has achieved significant growth without sacrificing quality.
  • It has established fruitful partnerships with other research and training institutions, not only in computer science, but also in other disciplines.
  • The Inria model (project-teams) is a remarkably good way to convert the creativity of its researchers into a consistent overall strategy.
  • Inria has successfully implemented all the elements in its chain of innovation, from basic research to technology transfer, by way of applied and collaborative research.
Main Recommendations
  • Give serious consideration to the pay scales of the researchers, which are not competitive with those of comparable institutions in other developed countries.
  • Take a more distinctive position in terms of research and technology, especially in relation to universities that are becoming increasingly independent. Major interdisciplinary projects and at-risk research must become key components of the future identity of Inria through greater involvement granted to teams from a variety of disciplines other than the ICST.
  • Emphasize among its critical missions the production of knowledge useful for dealing with major societal and environmental problems (health, energy, education, security, etc.) and stand out as a major player committed to the resolution of these problems.
  • Gauge Inria’s development in qualitative terms (attractiveness, impact) and not just in quantitative ones (size and number of researchers). If available resources are to be maintained and expanded, they must be devoted more to increasing wages, improving research infrastructure, stimulating cutting-edge research and developing multidisciplinary projects.
Other recommendations cover a variety of aspects, including
  • Avoiding overly frequent evaluations
  • Entrusting responsibility for projects to new researchers
  • Reinforcing the synergies between Computer Science and Applied Mathematics
  • Making a more pro-active contribution to the teaching of ICST in secondary schools
  • Diversifying communication channels with industry
  • Developing external partnerships in the field of hardware and more commonly used telecommunications technologies.

Keywords: Visiting Committee Valérie Pécresse Rapport Visiting Committee Michel Cosnard

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