News - September 8, 2009

INRA to do research in Restaurant of the Future

The French research institute INRA wants to do research in the Restaurant of the Future, while Wageningen UR is interested in research in INRA's cutting-edge BSE lab.

Dr. Marion Guillou, president of INRA, and executive chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen, signed a memorandum of understanding this week. Both organizations will gear their research and facilities towards each other, says Guillou. INRA is in the process of changing from a French to an international research institute, Guillou says in an interview. 'Last year, fifteen percent of our researchers came from other countries via international projects. We are more open to responding to demands from society and to working together with other institutes and the business sector.'
In 2008, INRA employed 8390 researchers, of whom 1833 are PhD students. Its budget was 745 million euros. Besides its head office in Paris, it has some twenty regional research centres in France.
INRA's most important partner is Wageningen UR. 'We have the same research themes and mission as Wageningen UR. We participate in 160 EU projects, and half of these involve Wageningen UR. Our next step is to set up joint research programmes in the area of agriculture and climate change.'
But exchange of researchers is the main priority for further cooperation, says Guillou. The right conditions have already been put into place for this, by making English the working language in the INRA institutes.
INRA is financed by the French government. Although this funding is stable, says Guillou, 'the number of research themes has increased. We therefore need to share our capacities with others and to acquire more external research assignments.'
In Europe, INRA works mainly with Wageningen UR and British knowledge institutes. Outside Europe, INRA works together with institutes in China, India and Brazil, the rising agriculture nations. Guillou admits to being choosy in closing a contract. 'I am a very practical person. We only sign agreements when we are really working together in projects.'