December 15, 2011

Eight Priorities for Giving New Impetus to Innovation in France

"If current trends continue, within the next 10 to 20 years, the West (and specifically Europe) may forfeit its role as scientific and technological leader, losing out to Asia that will become the main base for innovation and R&D. For France, since 2003, the innovation deficit has translated into ongoing trade deficit amounting to 50 billion euros on average per year over the past four years. The market share of 'made in France' within OECD countries, which already dropped 50% between 1998 and 2004, is declining. Without sufficient innovation, the structural deficit of the trade balance will endure, impeding growth and employment and - in the end - the well being of our fellow citizens." These are the opening words describing the alarming situation of the French economy and France's innovation deficit in a book written by Think Tank Innovation of the Association des Centraliens. But the 211-page book is hardly pessimistic as the title of the book published by Armand Colin, 8 priorités pour dynamiser l'innovation en France (8 priorities for giving new impetus to innovation in France) perfectly sums up the outlook and enthusiastic approach of the dozen members of Think Tank Innovation whose research drew on the field experience of some 1,142 Ecole Centrale engineers, of which 20% work abroad.

Eight throught provoking priorities to fuel action!
Crédits : Association des Centraliens

In the sixties and seventies, France had clearly succeeded in becoming a world class leader in major industries, such as energy with a focus on nuclear power, aeronautics (Airbus), water management, building and public works, automobiles as well as luxury goods, hotels and catering and banks. However, since then the situation has radically changed, especially as France has been innovating much less for more than a decade. France now holds tenth rank for innovation on the European Commission's scoreboard! Notably, there are no French companies in the classification of the world's fifty most innovative companies. "We do not have the place that we ought to have," stated Guy Delcroix who is involved Think Tank Innovation. Other alarming facts include the fact that small businesses and industries, albeit numerous, are not much involved in innovation and that French companies are quite timid with regards to European R&D projects. Also, French higher education is still, on average, comparatively way down the list of the world's top universities.

Given this situation, it is hardly surprising that the Association des Centraliens decided to address the issue of innovation at a think tank facilitated by Olivier Ferrary. Its approach is particularly legitimate as Ecole Centrale engineers have a tradition of innovation, as illustrated by some of its 'illustrious graduates': Gustave Eiffel, Louis Blériot, Pierre-Georges Latécoère, Jules Peugeot and recently Francis Bouygues. "Not to mention all the anonymous graduates, the 35% of Ecole Centrale engineers who are or were in Research & Development and whose activities have contributed to innovation," underscored Olivier Ferrary. Innovation is an Ecole Centrale focus that its alumni are passionate about, explaining why they attempted to answer the following question in their book, which is the outcome of a year's work, 'What must be done to drive innovation in France?' They start with making a realistic and uncompromising diagnosis and note that much has been done to back innovation, encourage academia and industry to work together and fund innovation via the research tax credit, Oseo and ANR (French National Research Agency). However, they also observe that there are still numerous impediments to innovation. The first is a cultural impediment. "Clearly, we no longer have the culture of innovation," lamented Guy Delcroix. There is also a certain weakness of research, funding problems, lingering administrative burdens, the still high cost of innovation and innovation management within companies, which seems defective.

"Therefore, there are many causes involved in France's deficient innovation," explained the Think Tank Innovation facilitator. This is the starting point for his 8 priorities, presented in the book as a tree where each branch is a priority, growing its own recommendations (the leaves of the branches) that have corresponding concrete proposals set forth in the body of the report. Among the 8 priorities, we would like to mention the first that recommends "the creation of a culture of, and pride in innovation in France" and the eighth and last called Innovation serving a vision: defining and rolling out an industrial innovation policy tailored to the stakes involved in the world economy of the twenty-first century. Both are emblematic priorities of the work that must be undertaken urgently. Clearly the work is of epic proportions, but France will have begin to tackle the task if it does not want to sink toward the bottom of world classifications for innovation.

>> Suivant

Partager cette page :


Version imprimable >>

Transmettre cette info par email >>

Recommander ce site à un collègue / ami >>

S'abonner au
eTech France >>

FAQ / foire aux questions >>

Conditions d'utilisation >>

Pour en savoir plus, contacts :
- Association des Centraliens - Grace Ferreira, Communication Manager - Phone: +33 (0)1 56 43 68 04 - email : -
- Armand Colin Editeur -

No comments: