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INRA's future is important to all of us
Appointed President of INRA during the Council of Ministers on 19 July 2016, Philippe Mauguin, an agricultural engineer, takes over from François Houllier on 27 July 2016. His plans for INRA are focused on innovation and international strategies.
A difficult but fascinating mission involving major collective challenges. The new President of INRA, who takes up his post on Wednesday 27 July, has very rapidly laid the foundations for his mandate: "During the coming years, INRA will have to achieve a difficult balance - as it has in the past - between being an internationally-renowned research institution that produces scientific publications of a very high quality at the frontiers of science, and providing support for economic actors and farmers". To explain his ideas, he recalls that the tensions that exist regarding agricultural resources, and the questions they pose for agricultural research, are being revived by the current context that is marked by an increasing scarcity of natural resources, the effects of climate change and food transitions. INRA must therefore mobilise all its scientific excellence, expertise and partnerships in order to generate breakthrough innovations for society.
During hearings in front of the Economic Affairs Commissions of the National Assembly and Senate, Philippe Mauguin outlined five priorities for INRA:
- human resource management, the "life force of the Institute", of which he stresses the quality of work and the diversity of backgrounds: to ensure essential cohesion in the community and maintain the attractiveness of INRA,
- scientific strategy: to drive efforts in areas such as agroecology, the digital sciences, the economic and social sciences, the environment and livestock sectors,
- innovation: to develop research programmes constructed jointly with actors in the field, and encourage the initiation of living labs,
- policies on cooperation with higher education: to clarify and intensify INRA's role in higher education and research communities in France,
- and international strategy: to develop a global network inspired by international laboratories in partnership and contribute to an action plan for European agriculture.
A collective project
As he takes up his post, the new President has declared to INRA's staff that "I shall place my experience in the management of public policies, and my knowledge of the major challenges faced in most of our sectors, at the service of our remarkable institution. I shall be particularly attentive to respecting the freedom and independence of research. I want to hear your views, and from the end of August I shall be meeting with all the main leaders of our working community, the unions and different stakeholders.
In September, I will start visiting all our Research Centres, so that I can meet you. I want all of you, with your different skills and experiences, to play an active part in this collective project we shall be developing together. Its success will depend on our involvement and cohesion. INRA's future is important to all of us".
INRA is the leading European institute for its publications in the agricultural sciences, and ranks second in the world behind its US counterpart. The Institute already has important international commitments, with more than half of its scientific publications being published jointly with a foreign institution. For Philippe Mauguin these advantages mean that working with its European partners, it can propose an action plan for European agricultural research and the sharing of research infrastructures. At the same time, he hopes to develop INRA's commitment as an actor in a global network, for example by increasing its involvement in International Joint Research Units, modelled on its current work in six International Associated Laboratories. The aim is to become a research institution of global importance and an acknowledged expert in its field.
Philippe Mauguin, born in 1963, is an agricultural engineer (Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, now AgroParisTech) and an engineer in the Corps of Rural Engineering, Water and Forests, specialising in the socio-economics of innovation (Ecole des Mines de Paris) and an auditor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in European Regional Development and Planning (IHEDATE).
- From 1987 to 1989, he was a research scientist at the Centre for the Sociology of Innovation at the Ecole des Mines de Paris.
- From 1989 to 1992, he was responsible for agrifood affairs at the Ministry of Research, and then became adviser to the Minister in 1992 and 1993.
- From 1993 to 1997, Philippe Mauguin was Director of Agriculture and Bioenergies at the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), and director of the scientific group Agriculture for Chemistry and Energy.
- From July 1997 to January 2002, he was an adviser on agriculture, forestry and food to the Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin.
- He then took up the post of Director of the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) from February 2002 to March 2006.
- He was appointed Director of the Regional and Interdepartmental Agency for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (DRIAAF) for the Ile-de-France Region from April 2006 to May 2009.
- He was Director of Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries until May 2012.
- Since then, he has been Director of the Cabinet of Stéphane Le Foll, Minister for Agriculture, the Food Industry and Forestry.