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G8/research and innovation

Published on June 17, 2013
Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research

Paris, June 13, 2013

Along with her counterparts in charge of research, science, technology and innovation (from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and in the presence of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Geneviève Fioraso took part in the G8 Science Meeting organized in London ahead of the G8 summit on 17 and 18 June.

Meeting for a whole day in the presence of the science academy presidents, the ministers focused on the role of research and innovation, with a view to sustainable economic growth.

In a world in the midst of geopolitical, economic, environmental and societal changes, the ministers debated the global issues, in the face of the 21st century’s major challenges in terms of health, energy, data collection and transmission, biodiversity and food. They agreed on the importance of tackling these issues collectively and in a resolutely cross-cutting way, incorporating all disciplines and ensuring the societal dimension is taken into account.

In this framework, and with the challenges in terms of competitiveness and jobs in mind, the ministers focused on:

- the global dimension of Very Large Research Infrastructures, following the example of the governance of CERN, which has just presented its European particle physics strategy;

- exponential data generation and the promotion, regulation and exploitation of access, storage and sharing methods, including in the context of public-private partnerships;

- the promotion of free access to research results, under various forms (Green Road, Golden Road or Hybrid).

Several challenges in the health field were discussed, particularly the problem of the spread of resistance by pathogens to antimicrobial drugs, which is responsible for excessive death rates in developed and emerging countries and has a major economic impact. Other major health challenges were discussed, in particular ageing and neurodegenerative diseases and the promotion of translational research in support of personalized and regenerative medicine. The ministers expressed the wish for the brain to be identified as a key theme, capitalizing on national initiatives (France, particularly with the NeuroSpin and Clinatec institutes and the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute, the United States and Canada, with a programme under way on the brain, and Russia) and European initiatives (the Joint Programming Initiative on Neurodegenerative Diseases Research, including Alzheimer’s, and the Human Brain Project).

The ministers all identified major challenges in other fields, such as intelligent and safe cities, energy security, climate change, the fight against inequality and youth unemployment. They welcomed the substantive nature of the discussions in this format and agreed to meet again at a later date.

Beyond their impact in terms of economic growth, competitiveness and the creation of innovative, sustainable jobs, the Minister sought to emphasize the importance of an integrated – rather than a silo – approach to all the issues raised that takes into account the societal dimension: “To respond to these challenges, it’s necessary to comprehensively address the scientific but also the ethical issues and develop the necessary tools, such as major infrastructures common to Europe and more broadly the G8 (CERN, ESA, ILL, ESRF, SUN, EMBL, ITER etc.), databases etc., while taking the societal, environmental and economic context into account”.

The Minister emphasized that this approach was fully consistent with active involvement by all the players. This was the approach that prevailed with a view to preparing “France Europe 2020”, the strategic agenda for research, [technology] transfer and innovation launched on 21 May and being debated in the bill currently under consideration in the Senate./.

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