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Research teams

The Inria “Project-team” model

Réunion de travail © INRIA / Photo Kaksonen

Ever since it first began, Inria has made use of an original research model founded on a basic entity:the project-team. This model is the component that structures the institute’s research activities. Made up of around 20 individuals, the project-team is formed around a “scientific leader”, who defines scientific objectives on a topic approved by the institute.

The project team (EP) is the basic unit of Inria’s research organisation. It brings together a team of scientists sharing a common research programme and collective scientific life; it is headed by a project team manager (REP) who plays an important role.

The team has a large measure of scientific and financial independence, with a budget consisting of resources allocated by the centre and its own resources (regional, national and European calls for tender, contracts with companies, etc.).

An EP may be made up of only Inria personnel: this is called Inria project team (EPI). More frequently, EPs are associated with partner institutions (universities, schools, or research organisations), then they are joint project teams (EPC).

A team on a human level

The Inria project-teams bring together, around a scientific personality, a group of researchers, research-lecturers, PhD students and engineers. They all have a common objective:to rise to a scientific and technological challenge in one of the institute’s priority research fields defined in the strategy plan.

A well-defined lifecycle

In order to obtain the “EP” label, the research team’s project must be approved by an assessment committee that is qualified in its scientific field. Once it has been awarded the label, the Inria project-team has four years to bring its research programme to fruition and achieve its objectives.To do so, it has its own resources to hand. At the end of this four-year period, the Inria project-team is again subject to a scientific assessment. It can then either be extended or stopped.Renewed a maximum of two times, the Inria project-team has a maximum lifetime of 12 years and an average duration of 8 years.

Management autonomy

Every project-team is autonomous in its organisation and management. It can also make use of the means made available to it by the “research support” services at the eight Inria centres set up regionally (recovery and transfer, human resources, finance, I.T., communication, etc.)The Institute promotes exchanges and collaborative actions amongst the Inria project-teams of its 8 centres. It also facilitates the Inria project-teams’ relations with their numerous international counterparts.

Their task is twofold:sciences & transfer

Within an Inria project-team, two objectives are pursued. The project-team’s first task is to communicate its scientific results on a wide scale by means of its publications and by taking part in major symposiums. The Inria project-team’s second task is to actively participate in transferring acquired knowledge and technologies to industry or to a wide community of users.The transfer can take various forms: training, patents, licences, strategic partnerships with major groups, implementation of technological platforms in the direction of SMEs, business creation, etc.

A partner in essence

Computer science is, in essence, oriented towards partnership. Thus, three out of four Inria project-teams have projects in common with the various partners of the Institute. Often composite, the Inria project-teams are at times received in a shared laboratory, or indeed on a partner’s premises: Grande Ecole, university, another research body, university hospital centre, etc. Collaborations occur based on co-ownership of the results on a pro rata basis according to the means allocated, and the distribution of the efforts made, enabling the impact of the research to be optimised.

Keywords: Project team Research organization