The ASIRPA project report, which describes a methodology for quantifying the impacts of INRA research, was published at the end of June 2014. © INRA

INRA releases first ASIRPA project results

On 3 July 2014, François Houllier, President of INRA and AllEnvi, presented the findings of the ASIRPA project at a symposium attended by the French Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment (OPECST). Launched in 2011, the project evaluated the impacts of publically funded agricultural research.

Updated on 06/23/2015
Published on 07/03/2014

The ASIRPA report, which details the impacts of the publically funded agricultural research carried out by INRA, was published at the end of June. François Houllier consequently took advantage of an AllEnvi symposium - “Building a new society and improving competitiveness via environmental research” - to officially present the report’s findings to the members of the OPECST, who were in attendance.

The ASIRPA project was launched by INRA’s general directors in January 2011. It came on the heels of one of the institute’s five-year evaluations, during which questions arose as to the broader relevance of the work being done at INRA. The project’s goal was to design and implement a means of evaluating the socioeconomic impacts of INRA research.

ASIRPA’s methodology was fine-tuned and then tested during a pilot study (14 initial case studies; see sidebar below). It was then more widely applied during the evaluations of several of the institute’s research divisions (16 case studies; see sidebar below).

Three analytic tools applied to 30 standardized cases:

  • A timeline that shows the case’s beginning and end, as well as relevant background information and important INRA-related events.
  • The impact pathway, a graphical tool for illustrating the steps involved in generating impacts (Douthwaite et al. 2003; Walker et al. 2008). It describes the research being carried out, the dissemination of results beyond academia, the application of those results, and the way in which they are used by socioeconomic players.
  • The impact vector, which comprises a table of impacts and a radar chart that graphs the impacts generated along five axes: economic, political, environmental, health-related, and regional-social.The strength of the impacts generated are evaluated on a scale of 1 (negligible) to 5 (strong).

These three tools can be used to describe and assess the mechanisms that generate impacts, that is to say the processes by which results are transferred from the world of research to the public sphere.

ASIRPA’s three main findings:

  • Impacts are produced thanks to long-term investment in research and the presence of collaborators other than researchers for knowledge generation. In the case studies examined, projects were carried out over the long term (14 years on average) and utilized techniques and infrastructure that dated back even further.
  • In the vast majority of cases, INRA was producing fundamental research. Furthermore, its scientists are frequently ranked among the world’s leaders in their respective fields of study. However, in cases in which the strongest impacts were generated (4 or 5 out of 5), it was necessary for the research to be taken further and to generate results that could easily be applied by socioeconomic players.
  • The analysis also clearly showed that those who are most skilled at carrying out research are not necessarily those best suited to navigating the other steps of the impact pathway. Consequently, granting them proprietary rights can act as a brake on knowledge transfer.

ASIRPA methodology can help research divisions better understand the impacts of their work and promote impact-focused discussions between researchers and outside collaborators. When the same tools and approaches are used across the board, the analyses carried out by different divisions can be grouped, yielding a sense of INRA’s overall impact.Therefore, ASIRPA’s methodology can spur self-evaluation at the institute and foster an impact-focused research culture.

Asirpa pilot study

The 14 case studies

• Genetic tools for fighting scrapie in sheep
• Ariane apples, an INRA cultivar
• Bisphenol A
• Tartrate stabilization of wine using electrodialysis
• Ogu-INRA: creation of hybrid rapeseed cultivars
• Decision-making tools for nitrogen fertilization
• Detecting, preventing, and fighting biofilms: the FS-series sensor
• Detecting, preventing, and fighting biofilms: the BIOREM enzyme detergent
• Genomic selection in dairy cattle
• Naskéo: creation of a start-up specialized in methanation
• Fire Paradox: a pan-European project for preventing and fighting forest fires
• Joint Research Unit for the Science and Technology of Milk and Eggs (STLO)
• Collective scientific expert report (ESCo) on pesticides
• Development of hardy plant varieties and low-input crop management sequences

Research Division evaluations

The 16 case studies

• Simulation software for modelling forest growth and dynamics
• Fighting forest dieback using calcium supplementation of soils
• Diagnostic tools for certifying the health of potato plants
• Information system focused on soils in France
• Decision-making tools for the food-packaging industry
• Genetically improving the maritime pine
• Support for Atlantic salmon conservation policies: authorized catch limits
• Assessment of the effects of sublethal doses of pesticides on bee populations
• New methodologies for quantifying agricultural N2O emissions
• Protecting trees and humans from the negative effects of pine processionary caterpillars
• Developing varieties of plane trees that are resistant to canker stain
• Ecophyto: policies aimed at reducing pesticide use
• Biologically controlling the codling moth, a pest in apples
• Managing agricultural pollution in Brittany
• Increasing crop productivity using Nod and Myc factors
• CLIMATOR project: the impact of climate change on agriculture

available for download

ASIRPA report

The ASIRPA project report, which describes a methodology for quantifying the impacts of INRA research, was published at the end of June 2014. © INRA
The ASIRPA project report, which describes a methodology for quantifying the impacts of INRA research, was published at the end of June 2014 © INRA

Download the full report (French only): le rapport Asirpa