”We use our skills and resources to address the challenges facing society.”
IFPEN is a major player in the energy transition and plays also a crucial role in the French public research landscape. This positioning stems from the research results achieved in the last few years as well as an ongoing commitment to the future. A “contract” in the real sense of the term. In this respect, the objectives and performance contract we signed with the public authorities is well named: we have made a commitment to put our skills and ressources to work to address the challenges facing society and to concretely drive forward research in the fields in which we operate.
Recognized scientific excellence
What have we actually achieved in 2011? IFPEN's scientific excellence was recognized and rewarded this year, as reflected at a European level in our high success rate (38%) in FP7 calls for projects. And, on a national scale, the projects we supported as part of the 1st wave of calls for projects in the French Investments for the future program achieved much success. For example, we are leading the Excellence Institute in the field of Low-carbon Energies (IEED), Indeed1, which aims to create a technological innovation campus on low-carbon industrial processes in “Chemistry Valley” (in the South of Lyon). We are also involved in the Pivert2 IEED dedicated to plant-based chemistry. Alongside our academic partners, we are participating in two world-class laboratories dedicated to the design of new materials: Imust3 and Matisse4. In addition, we are involved in several projects selected in the 2nd wave of IEED: France Energies marines, Geodenergies, Green Stars and VeDeCoM.
Addressing the challenges facing society
However satisfactory they may be, these results must not obscure the fact that there is still a long way to go. Working closely with public authorities and attentive to the needs of industry, we have identified the fields on which our research must focus as a priority, drawing on our own specific expertise: diversification of energy sources, particularly in the transport sector; tackling climate change, through a reduction in CO2 emissions and better energy efficiency; and water resource management, which will be one of the major challenges of the future.
The scale of these challenges is such that they cannot be met by one player alone. It is for this reason that public authorities are encouraging research organizations to work together. In this respect, our presence within Ancre5, which I chaired for two years, has demonstrated IFPEN's capacity to unite the French research sector in the field of energy. Over the course of these two years, programmatic groups identified the main obstacles hampering the development of innovative energy technologies and proposed potential avenues for overcoming these in the form of over 50 research programs.
A creator of wealth and jobs
The creation of wealth and jobs is another key concern for our supervisory authorities: through its innovative research, IFPEN contributes to the competitiveness of existing industries in the fields of energy, transport and the environment, and fosters the emergence of new eco-industries. We are already present in a large number of these sectors that will play a strategic role in the development of French industry in the medium and long terms: hybrid and electric vehicles, CO2 capture and storage technologies, marine energies, the management of produced water, plant-based chemistry and 2nd-generation biofuels. In the latter, it is important to recall our major contribution to the BioTfueL and Futurol projects, for example.
We are convinced that it is from this symbiosis between research and industry that the solutions to the challenges associated with the energy transition will emerge. Hence we provide industry with innovative and competitive technological solutions, we support the innovation efforts of SMEs, we create new companies that act as technology transfer relays, we train tomorrow's researchers and engineers, etc.
And the results are clear to see. For each SME supported by IFPEN, an average of three direct jobs are created. More broadly, 360 jobs, i.e. An increase of around 20%, were created in France between 2005 and 2010 within IFPEN subsidiaries. Our innovation and technology transfer policy has earned us a place among Thomson Reuters' Top 100 Global Innovators.
Scientific excellence to address the challenges facing society: this could be our motto for the future. I now invite you to find out how we implement this ambition.
1 French National Institute for the Development of Eco-technologies and Low-carbon Energies.
2 Picardy Center for Plant Innovation, Training, Research and Technology.
3 Institute for Multi-scale Sciences and Technologies.
4 Materials, Interfaces, Surfaces, Environment.
5 French National Alliance for Energy Research Coordination.