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Chairman’s report

Interview with Didier Houssin, Chairman of IFP Energies nouvelles

In 2015, the energy sector bore the full brunt of tumbling oil prices. Despite this challenging environment, we continued to steer a steady course. IFP Group more than weathered the storm and achieved some very respectable results.

Didier Houssin
 

    
I was appointed Chairman of IFPEN a little over a year ago.
   
Over recent months, I have seen for myself the wealth of talent at work within the Group.
      
IFPEN's strategic directions, reaffirmed in the mission statement I received from Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, to whom we report, represent a clear and inspiring road map for the future.

     

A strong commitment to support public policies

This mission statement explicitly underlines our legitimate status as a key energy transition player in the fields of energy, mobility and the environment. It also recognizes the strength of our ambition up to 2025, shaping the global directions contained in the 2016-2020 objectives and performance contract, due to be signed shortly.

IFPEN's commitment to supporting public policies was recently highlighted by its active participation at the COP21 climate summit. We contributed to numerous initiatives, in partnership with other research bodies and via Ancre1, which I have also chaired since September 2015. These events and initiatives represent ideal opportunities to promote our expertise and innovations in the field of low-carbon technologies. This expertise is also recognized by the French government, which appointed us as one of the members of the particle emissions commission set up in October 2015, in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.

Finally, we continue to play an active role in collaborative projects launched in France and Europe: the results obtained in the last two years within the context of the European Horizon 2020 Framework Program have been outstanding, with 43% of projects submitted in 2015 being successful.

 

Science supporting innovation

Our results stem from the scientific excellence of our researchers. The report by the French High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), which followed our 2014 audit and was published at the start of 2015, speaks for itself: the principal conclusions confirm the coherence and credibility of IFPEN's positioning as "a unique technological research center, (…) an interface between academia and industry".

In 2015, our research was once again widely recognized across the scientific community. For example, Céline Chizallet won the prestigious Edith Flanigen award for her work in the field of molecular modeling. This award is presented annually in Germany to a young woman scientist whose work is deemed exceptional by her peers. And our doctoral students were not to be outdone either, with seven of them scooping awards.

Beyond these individual awards, I would also like to pay tribute to our collective success: for the fifth year running, IFPEN is ranked in the world's Top 100 most innovative organizations, according to Thomson Reuters! In France, we remain among the top 15 national patent applicants in the 2015 list published by Inpi - French National Industrial Property -, alongside major industrial groups. With 182 new patents filed, more than half of which were in the field of NETs, 2015 saw another increase compared to the previous year.

 

Research serving industry

Innovation is an integral part of IFPEN's make-up. It is crucial for the competitiveness of our subsidiaries and industrial partners and provides concrete results in terms of wealth and job creation.

As a striking example worth noting in the field of mobility, 2015 saw the development of a first range of electric motors for small urban vehicles, in partnership with Mavel. An achievement that demonstrates our capacity to take a first prototype through to a demonstration vehicle.

Also in 2015, our research in the field of new energies led to the full development of the Vegan® process for the production of biodiesel from vegetable oil, an industrial first. The Futurol project concerning the production of bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass ended the year with some extremely promising results. Further significant advances were obtained in the fields of second-generation biodesel production (BioTfueL project) and biobased chemistry (BioButterfly project). Our commitment to the offshore wind power sector continues to follow a solid road map, with numerous industrial partnerships enabling us to test our technologies on demonstrators, as part of French and European collaborative projects.

In 2015, concerning the optimal and clean use of hydrocarbons, we released a new range of services dedicated to water cycle management, within the context of the EOR Alliance, with Solvay and Beicip-Franlab. In the field of refining, the development of increasingly high-performance and energy-efficient catalysts reinforces our group's position in an extremely competitive market.

Lastly, our training provision itself is driven by innovation: flipped classroom, interactive classes, and, above all, the development of our MOOCs on Sustainable Mobility and Oil and Gas with more than 25,000 participants in 2015: an exemplary success recognized by an E-Learning Excellence Award from the Cegos Group

So 2015 was a busy year for IFPEN. A year of challenges in an extremely difficult economic context, but one that was also full of promise for the future.

 

1- French National Alliance for Energy Research Coordination

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