Supporting and funding research in France


The French National Research Agency (ANR) is a public body which comes under the authority of the Ministry of Research, as this profile of the organisation by Open Access Government discovers

The French National Research Agency (ANR) is a public body which comes under the authority of the Ministry of Research. In short, ANR supplies funding for project-based research and has done so since 2010.1

Going into more detail, we know that ANR funds research in all scientific fields, in both basic and applied research, by means of an internationally compliant competitive peer review process. In addition, grant recipients include universities, public research organisations, and companies of all sizes.

The key challenges the ANR works on are part of the European Strategic Agenda, indeed, ANR has deployed and designed a variety of funding instruments to satisfy the needs of project-based funding in research communities and where public policy for research and innovation in France is concerned.

ANR’s activities aims can be summarised as follows:

  • Developing science and technology (S&T);
  • Rallying teams around societal and S&T challenges;
  • Speeding up knowledge creation and transfer, as well as fostering academic-industry partnerships;
  • Promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborative work;
  • Preparing a new generation of talent
  • Facilitating collaborations, both European and international

Competitive, project-based research funding

It is also worth pointing out that annually, over 8,000 peer reviewers assist ANR by providing their expertise. ANR certainly appreciates their work in terms of their kind assistance in guaranteeing the selection of projects to an extremely high standard. The ANR teams finance, monitor and assist these projects, plus they prioritise the quality of service delivered to the scientists, as well as the speed of response, the procedural simplification and the frequent adaptation to new challenges. 

Quality and ethics

ANR’s code of ethics has always set out best practice guidelines, with which all people and organisations concerned with the agency’s activities must comply with. This charter guarantees the transparency of processes, compliance with the research project selection criteria and sound management of public funds.

In 2014, ANR developed a policy for ethics and research integrity (lien vers la page policy for ethics and research integrity). The document details the basic principles to abide by when it comes to the exercise of research or such training activities, along with the duties and rights of those that evaluate, support and perform research work. This applies to applicant organisations, researchers and all those involved in the activities of ANR.

This policy adheres with the principles set out in the ‘Singapore Statement on Research Integrity’ (July 2010) and the ‘European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity’ published by the European Science Foundation (ESF). It also complies with the Statement of Principles for Research Integrity adopted at the Global Research Council meeting in 2013 and the recommendations of the European Commission’s funding programme Horizon 2020.

Peer review

Every year, no less than 8,000 peer reviewers assist ANR by giving their expertise. We know that the ANR selection process is based on the principle of peer review, which is in line with international standards for research project selection. To get to this stage, ANR depends on the assistance of external and regularly renewed panels of scientific individuals, as well as the widest possible range of scientific experts in the international community.

One point worth noting here, is that prior to being given access to a complete proposal file, the reviewers must sign a confidentiality agreement and state that they have no conflicts of interest and accept the principles of non-disclosure, as well as the management of conflicts of interest which are detailed in ANR’s code of ethics.

It is true to say that these peer reviewers play a crucial part in the process for selecting AMR project proposals, in light of the fact that the conversations of the evaluation panels are based on the peer reviewers’ assessment reports. No less than three peer reviewers’ reports are needed for each project proposal and it is these important that assessments, whether consensual or contradictory in their opinions, should power the discussions of panels to reach the ranking of the proposals.

Investments for the Future

One final point to note in this analysis of the ANR’s many activities, are the Investments for the Future programmes, launched by the French Government in 2009. In short, these are strategic initiatives which intend to boost French competitiveness by investing in research, higher education and vocational training, in industry and SMEs, plus in sustainable development and in expanding sectors, such as digital technology, biotechnology and nuclear energy – more of which the ANR’s website explains to us in terms of how research efforts are essential for France’s competitiveness, growth and employment in the future, along with a concrete example of how research can benefit society.

“Drawing on ANR know-how and expertise, the French Government has entrusted the agency with (the) management of the research and higher education component of the programmes.

“The aim is to massively invest over the long-term in innovative S&T projects which will eventually be a source of growth and progress for the French economy.

“In a global context, an investing effort targeted towards research and innovation is a prerequisite for competitiveness, growth, and employment.

“Part of the initiative also focuses on health and biotechnology, with a view to bolstering progress on specific areas of knowledge, developing new solutions and allowing for the anticipation, improvement, development and validation of new approaches in medicine and agronomy.”2





Open Access Government


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