Visit to Australia by the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal, for the Joint Science and Innovation Meeting [fr]
After a visit to China where she participated in the "Joint Science and Technology Commission", Frédérique Vidal, French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, visited Australia from February 26 to 28 2019, with the aim of strengthening bilateral scientific and academic cooperation.
Accompanied by a delegation of about fifty people, composed of university directors (PSL, Saclay, Toulouse, Rennes, Lyon, Nantes, Pau, Savoie, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, WASAA consortium), presidents of the CNRS, INSERM, CNES, and the ANR, as well as representatives of INRA, IRD, IFREMER; the Minister spoke with representatives of major Australian universities and research institutions, as well as with her counterparts Karen Andrews (Industry Innovation Science), Dan Tehan (Education and Training), and Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.
She was welcomed, along with her delegation, to the Australian Academy of Sciences for a celebration of the bilateral scientific relationship.
25 agreements of research and training collaboration were signed during this visit, demonstrating the shared desire to give new impetus to the scientific and academic cooperation between France and Australia.
The Minister’s visit began on February 26 with a meeting in Sydney with her counterpart Karen Andrews, Australian Minister of Industry, Science and Technology.
At the end of the day, several agreements were signed, modelled in particular around the context of rapprochement of the French and Australian defence industries.
These agreements include: the Adelaide launch of the first joint international research unit (IMU) of the CNRS in Australia, associating Naval Group and the three universities of South Australia; as well as the creation of a platform for research and innovation on artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, the "OzCean Technocampus" by Naval Group, several universities and Australian government agencies.
Two French-Australian international laboratories have also been certified by the CNRS, in photonics, and in immunology.
Cooperation on health, space and in the field of energy was also highlighted through a number of structuring agreements. University cooperation was also the subject of several announcements, with the extension of the Nicolas Baudin internship program and the creation of a double diploma in acoustics between the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and the University of Adelaide.
On February 27, the Minister was the guest of honour at the Annual Conference of Universities Australia in Canberra. At the opening keynote speech of the conference, the Minister highlighted the role of higher education, research and innovation in the face of the today’s global challenges, and the way in which France and Australia can work together to meet them.
Frédérique Vidal also met with the Group of Eight, which brings together the country’s leading research universities. Various agreements were signed with the Australian National University, establishing partnerships with the Paris-Sciences-et-Lettres University, CNES and CNRS.
She later spoke with Alan Finkel, the Chief Scientist of the Australian Government, and Education Minister Dan Tehan.
In Melbourne on Thursday, Mrs. Vidal met Mr. Kim Carr, shadow minister for Industry, Science and Innovation, for her final meeting with a political representative. She then visited the Avalon Airshow, in the context of strengthening cooperation on space.
The ministerial visit ended Thursday evening with a sequence on health cooperation at the University of Melbourne. The minister was also able to meet a group of Australian, French and international students for a talk on mobility, in the context of the launch of the "Welcome to France" plan.
The Joint Science and Innovation Meeting (JSIM), a crucial moment of the Franco-Australian strategic partnership, was held on February 28.
It had been announced during the visit of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron to Sydney in May 2018. The objective of the JSIM is to define the main routes of the future of bilateral science and innovation cooperation.
The discussion was enriched by the work of six thematic workshops (space, energy, materials, mining, future industries, plant ecology and agronomy, environment and climate, health).
The parties agreed to develop an action plan for the future of the cooperation.
To read the French Minister’s keynote speech at the Annual Conference of Universities Australia, click here.
To learn more about joint research works between Australia and France, you can visit the Stories of French-Australian Innovation website.
To learn more about the new developments for the Nicolas Baudin program
Several Australian and international newspapers have highlighted the ministerial visit and the Joint Science and Innovation Meeting
ABC: “France capitalising on submarine contract by promoting research and training deals with Australia”, by Matthew Doran – interviews of Mrs. Frédérique VIDAL and of Mr. Antoine PETIT, chief executive of the CNRS.
Australian Financial Review:
> “What Australia can learn from France on higher education”, by Robert Bolton.
> “Australia and France team up to give astronauts a ray of life for space travel”, par Andrew Tillett – interview de M. Jean-Yves LE GALL, directeur du CNES.
> “French plea for a sharper focus on scientific projects”, par Sian Powell.
> “Group of Eight universities look for the French connection”, par Tim Dodd.
Times Higher Education: “Befuddled by Brexit ? Come to us instead, France tells Australian HE”