The MESRI drives the public research in France: it defines the major research axes and distributes resources based on general objectives. It implements, together with the relevant partners, reliable evaluation procedures in order to measure the performance and effectiveness of national schemes for research and innovation. Public research is conducted predominantly by higher education institution and research organisations.
Some are multi-disciplinary, such as the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique – CNRS). Others conduct targeted research, such as French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale – INSERM), the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique – INRA), the French national institute for research in computer science and control (Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique – INRIA), French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux énergies alternatives – CEA), the French national centre for space studies (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales – CNES), the French Research Institute for the Exploration of the Sea (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer – IFREMER), etc. Also included are foundations, such as the Curie Institute (Institut Curie), or non-profit private foundations, such as the Pasteur Institute (Institut Pasteur).
Several organisations can collaborate under the form of a mixed research unit (Unité Mixtes de Recherche – UMR), such as the case of the majority of the laboratories of CNRS, or federated research institutes (Instituts Fédératifs de Recherche – IFR), as is the case of Inserm.
Private research is mainly conducted by firms, employing 252 000 people (60% of total R&D people) including 166 000 researchers in 2015. In the same year, domestic spending on research and development by firms (Dépense Intérieure de Recherche et Développement des Entreprises – DIRDE) was €32 billion.
For firms, researchers are quite concentrated in 6 areas of research: the automobile industry, computer science and information, aviation and space, pharmaceutical industry, manufacture of measurement instruments and devices.