17 February 2017

The Laboratories of Excellence policy is to be continued

Thierry Mandon and Louis Schweitzer, Commissioner General for Investment, announced the continuation of the Labex policy of excellence beyond 2019 during their visit to the Henri Poincaré Institute’s “SMP” (Mathematical Sciences of Paris) laboratory on 14 February.
The 171 Laboratories of Excellence (Labex) have developed a range of innovative research activities since their selection six years ago, constituting one of the structuring tools for research across French soil. The resources allocated to them have enabled them to increase their international visibility, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their foreign counterparts, fund numerous doctoral theses (over 2,600 between 2011 and 2015), attract researchers and research professors of international renown, and construct a high-level integrated research, training and promotion policy.

Labex funding to be continued beyond 2019

Labex funding was originally supposed to continue up until the end of 2019. However, in order to sustain the momentum generated, it has been decided to enable the successful among them to continue their activities beyond that date by extending the non-consumable endowment initially granted to them for a ten-year period, following an assessment of their results.
A first assessment of progress made by the laboratories in question, in terms of their anticipated scientific trajectories and structural advances alike, was carried out in 2015. It was entrusted to an international panel made up of members of the selection panel, which analysed records of research undertaken and the impetus generated onsite and/or at national and international level.
This initial assessment demonstrated that the Labex policy was proving to be a success, putting the spotlight on excellence in French research and providing the scientific community with a flexible tool and increased freedom of organisation over time.

An assessment carried out by an international panel

The decision whether or not to extend each Labex for an initial five-year period will be taken following a new assessment, complementary to that of 2015 and focusing on their structuring aspects with regard to the sites where they are located (structuring of scientific strengths, contribution to research and training strategy, scientific exchanges, development of platforms and facilities, etc.), their contribution to national dynamics and visibility in the research fields concerned, and the nature and quality of partnerships implemented.
The assessment will be carried out by an international panel, made up of members of the panel previously formed for Labex selection and then for the 2015 progress assessment. Labex reports and five-year projections will be made available to it. In addition – and this is something new – assessments and recommendations on the part of universities and other bodies involved in the Labex policy will be communicated to it, bearing in particular on such laboratories’ impact on the research and training ecosystems concerned and on the structuring dynamics set in motion.
These criteria will be applied in differentiated fashion depending on each Labex’s situation (projected university research school, for example).
CGI logoThe decision for their extension will be taken by the Prime Minister upon completion of this second in-depth assessment, upon proposal by the Labex Action Steering Committee and following an opinion delivered by the Commissioner General for Investment. The decision will be taken in early 2019 at the latest, for application at the end of the same year. It may be accompanied by recommendations and, if required, be conditional on their implementation.
Researchers have eagerly awaited the announcement of the public authorities’ policy on the future of the Labex initiative. All conditions are now in place to enable currently available resources to continue to support such laboratories’ activities beyond 2019, when assessment has demonstrated the excellence of their results as regards research and training, as well as their knock-on and structuring effects.
For the time being, the announcement authorises Labex to sustain their momentum unabated and, in particular, to keep on recruiting doctoral and postdoctoral students. To this end, and while awaiting the assessment to be made, technical conditions currently in force will be relaxed in order to guarantee Labex these new capacities.

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