The Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR)
France’s Agence Nationale de la Recherche or ANR is a public administrative agency overseen by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. It administers funding for research projects and public institutions for specific collaborations either with each other or private-sector companies.
The ANR was founded in 2005 to promote French project-centered research and to stimulate innovation by facilitating the development of multidisciplinary collaborative projects and encouraging “public-private” ones. Another of its purposes is to bolster the position of French research at the European and world scales.
The Agency’s official missions as defined in the Decree of August 1, 2006 (revised March 24, 2014), are as follows:
- To fund and promote the development of targeted fundamental research projects, technical innovations, technology transfer, and public-private sector partnerships;
- To implement the program defined by the minister in charge of research, which reflects the views of all ministers overseeing research institutions or public higher education institutions;
- To manage the French state’s programs for investing in higher education and research and to keep track of their implementation;
- To strengthen scientific cooperative projects at the European Union and international levels by linking up France’s research programing with European and international initiatives.
The ANR’s main or “generic” call for grant proposals (AAPG) is addressed to all scientific communities and public or private-sector actors implicated in French research. It is designed to enable researchers from different scientific disciplines to access co-funding—in addition to the recurring funding they have already obtained—in a wide range of circumscribed or wider-ranging research topic areas
This generic call for grant proposals uses 4 funding instruments, each of which has specific submission and evaluation procedures. The instruments are used to fund the following: individual research projects to be conducted by early-career researchers (JCJCs for “young researchers”), national collaborative projects conducted by public entities (PRCs), bilateral international projects (PRCIs), or mixed public-private sector projects that target or include the world of private enterprise (PRCEs).
The AAPG covers 50 predefined research areas, each of which has its own scientific evaluation committee (CES). Upon submitting a project proposal, researchers choose and designate a given research area, thus determining the CES most closely connected with the scientific objectives of their proposed project. That choice cannot be changed during the selection process.
- 37 of the research areas fall into 7 larger disciplinary categories: environmental sciences; energy and material sciences; digital sciences; life sciences; humanities and social sciences; mathematics and mathematical interactions; material and high energy physics, and science of the planets and universe.
- The remaining 13 research areas are trans- or interdisciplinary, situated at the intersection of several scientific sectors.
All AAPG 2020 research areas (or those dating further back) have been maintained; however, key words or written presentations of some areas have been changed to more accurately define their scientific boundaries.
The AAPG is open to all researchers with a permanent position in a public or private research organization, institute, or center eligible for ANR funding. A single researcher can be involved in at most 3 ANR AAPG or bilateral (Action plan 2021) project proposals; specifically, they may hold a maximum of three proposed positions of scientific responsibility or two positions of scientific responsibility and one coordination position. Coordinators of a selected and funded PRC, PRCE, PRCI, or early-career researcher (JCJC) AAPG 2020 project can coordinate only one PRC, PRCE, PRCI, or JCJC AAPG 2021 project. However, they may hold the position of scientific leader of a partner’s project. Moreover, JCJC project coordinators can only coordinate one additional PRC, PRCE, PRCI or JCJC project during the time they are working for said JCJC project.
ANR evaluation committee members and external experts use identical criteria to evaluate AAPG grant pre-proposals and detailed proposals. Those criteria are as follows:
2 criteria in Phase 1 evaluation: the proposed project’s
- quality and scientific ambition (a differentiating criterion);
- organization and realization, a category that subsumes several, more specific criteria;
3 criteria in Phase 2 evaluation: the proposed project’s
- quality and scientific ambition;
- organization and realization;
- impact and repercussions, a category subsuming several more specific criteria that vary by the funding instrument selected.