a huge challenge and gaps

by time news

2023-12-08 12:45:09

France’s inability to develop a vaccine in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic had the merit of creating awareness of the inadequacies of French research. However, the ills from which the latter suffers do not date from the health crisis and go far beyond the sole scope of life sciences. Poorly financed, poorly organized, lacking recognition, it accumulates weaknesses at the worst time. The country has a crucial need for cutting-edge research to meet the challenges of the 21st century, whether in health, ecological transition or artificial intelligence.

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The plan announced on Thursday, December 7, by Emmanuel Macron aims to redress the situation by launching a “real revolution” of French research, able to « transformer » within eighteen months its organization.

The challenge is immense. The Nobel Prizes and Fields medals that the country still manages to win no longer manage to dispel the illusion of the decline that is at work. More and more high-level researchers are forced to exile to more favorable skies to find better conditions. France continues to fall in the world ranking for scientific publications. A few days ago, CNRS geologist and physicist Pierre Rochette criticized, in a column at Mondethe “bureaucratic burden” which is suffocating French research.

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The project announced by the Head of State is supposed to make the management of the ecosystem simpler and more fluid. Research organizations will need to define their priority research areas. They will be given a mandate with resources to carry out the programs entrusted to them. This reorganization must be accompanied by a reduction in administrative procedures, including a shortening of response times to calls for projects, while facilitating bridges between agencies and between universities.

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These changes are largely based on the goodwill of the actors. If the ineffectiveness of the current mille-feuille is not debated, quarrels may arise when it comes to identifying duplicates and abandoning certain areas of research already covered by other researchers. The overall coordination of the whole will be decisive. Nothing is said about scientists whose themes do not fit into the identified priorities. Remember that the history of science is paved with non-“programmed” discoveries, such as the messenger RNA at the heart of vaccines against Covid-19.

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Concerning financing, the State estimates that it has already made most of the efforts with the 25 billion euros from the research programming law and that it is now up to the private sector to take over. It remains to define the levers that will encourage companies and funds to invest more and build bridges with fundamental research. As for the autonomy of universities that the president calls for strengthening, this will only make sense if it is accompanied by specific funding, which, at this stage, is not planned.

Finally, the creation of a Presidential Science Council gives the feeling that French research remains very vertical in operation. This body does not aim to define French strategy, nor to issue a public opinion, but to inform the president in his choices. It is therefore under the high patronage of the Head of State that the “revolution” will have to prove itself.

The world

#huge #challenge #gaps

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