matching funds. The sheer number of annual contacts with companies (7,800) is impressive. The spinoff efforts by some Carnot institutes are very robust and the track record of the French institutes in this area appears to eclipse that of the Fraunhofer.

At the same time, even if highly successful, the Carnot initiative, standing along, cannot remedy some of the more intractable weaknesses in the French innovation system, such as manpower shortages, the acknowledged shortcomings of the educational system, chronic underinvestment in research by industry, and the comparative lack of interest by young people in careers in engineering and science.66 In 2011, five years after the inception of the Carnot initiative, a study by two French academics concluded that research cooperation between public and private sectors in France contributes less to companies’ innovation capacity than is the case in Germany, based on an econometric study of the share of innovative products in total turnover. The European Commission attributed these findings to the difficulty encountered by companies in cooperating effectively with public research organizations, the complexity of the knowledge-transfer system, and the difficulty private companies experience in finding the right research partners.67 These findings underscore the fact that addressing the challenges facing France in innovation will take a major effort spanning many years.


66In 2011, the European Commission commented on “the low level of interest shown by [French] companies for innovation. This is due to the weak culture of innovation characterizing French companies.” European Commission. 2011. Erawatch Country Reports 2011: France. p. 14.

67Robin, Stephanie and Tosben Schmidt. 2011. “Partenaniats Public/Prive et Innovation dans les Enterprises” in MINEFI. L’Innovation dans les Entreprises: Moteurs, Moyens et Enjeaux cited in European Commission. 2011. Erawatch Country Reports 2011: France. p. 14.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement