France’s research tradition
France is among the world’s leading research powers. As examples:

  • French publications are ranked 4th in the world for impact
  • France ranks 5th among OECD countries
  • France is in the world’s top 3 in Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Nano and Biotechnologies
  • France space budget is second to that of the USA

The international heart of French research
French research bodies maintain more than 250 facilities abroad, and France holds the first place in international research collaboration.

Top rankings

France is 4th worldwide in Nobel prizes received (61 in total), and it ranks top 10 for the number of scientific publications.

Patents and publications
France is ranked 4th in the world in the European patent system, and 7th in the US patent system. France stands out particularly in the following fields: transportation, nanotechnologies, fine organic chemistry, building and public works, pharmaceuticals, and materials and metallurgy. France currently holds the 5th place in the world for scientific production in the life and health science.

How research is organized in France?

The ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation leads French research policy. In 2016, 13 billion Euros were allocated for higher education and 7.71 billion Euros were allocated for research.

In universities, research is organized in thematic clusters, and, within those clusters, in entities that have different names and standing.

  • Host teams: They are administrative structures set up under contract with, and supported by, the Ministry of Higher Education, research, and Innovation. They are managed by the university and are not linked with outside research bodies
  • Joint research units: Also called UMRs, they operate under a contract between the university and one or more research organizations. The contracting parties contribute personnel and financing.
  • Internal research unit: They are laboratories managed and evaluated solely by a given research organization but tied to the university by agreements.

France’s 25 major research bodies

The two largest research bodies are the CNRS and the CEA that account for 33% of all public research. The other organizations are smaller, INRA and INSERM each account for 5% of public research, with CNES following at 3%. CIRAD and IRD stand out for investing more than 90% of their funds abroad, reflecting their missions and international facilities.

You can get more details on each organization on the following links: