8 August 2018Europe

LSIPR 50 2018: Antoine Petit

Name: Antoine Petit

Organisation: National Center for Scientific Research

Position: CEO and Chairman

Antoine Petit is a firm believer in giving science a more important role in society, and after being named as chairman and CEO of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in January 2018, he has ample resources to dedicate to the challenge.

France’s national research agency has an annual budget of more than €3.2 billion ($3.98 billion), and more than 31,000 researchers, engineers, and technicians working in various scientific disciplines. It also has more than 1,100 laboratories and ten research institutions, and is responsible for more than 5,600 patented discoveries.

Although new to the role, Petit has big plans for the research agency. Before being appointed he pledged to make the CNRS more agile and reactive during a parliamentary hearing and also expressed his intention to increase the agency’s budget through grants in France, the EU, and industry partnerships. Petit has also expressed the importance of attracting talent internationally, a feat which is helped by having strong research budgets and well-equipped labs.

In addition, Petit is keen to enhance the work the CNRS does to assist startups. CNRS Innovation, the agency’s subsidiary, consists of 45 experts who are helping technology transfer stakeholders bring innovative discoveries to society. The subsidiary assists startups with everything from patent filing to market research and training.

With a background in computer science Petit started his career as an assistant professor at the Université d’Orléans. He spent the first two decades of his career conducting research and teaching at academic institutes as well as the CNRS. Prior to joining the CNRS, Petit was president of the French National Institute for Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. He is a non-executive president of the Institut des Hautes Études pour la Science et la Technologie and is a member of the scientific board of the French parliamentary office for the assessment of scientific and technological choices. Petit is the author of more than 50 scientific publications.

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