The INC on the international stage

The CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) aims to conduct research in chemistry at the highest international level around extremely competitive topics, mainly related to energy, materials, health and the environment. To that end, it initiates different forms of collaborations with large academic institutions or emblematic industrial groups from certain countries.

An international presence around competitive themes

Both internationally and in France, the strongest and most competitive themes for the INC remain energy (Japan and Russia), materials (Canada, India, Japan, USA, Russia, etc.), health (India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia) and sustainable development (Singapore, Russia, Japan, Canada).

Until recently, the ICN's international activities focused mainly on the BRICS countries, especially Brazil, Russia, India and China. Now the Institute's efforts also focus on strengthening relationships with the USA, Canada, Japan and Korea.

These partnerships are carried out with Universities or foreign academic research organizations and/or with industrial chemical players such as the Solvay group in China in the field of catalysis and in the USA in the field of soft materials and polymers, or with Saint-Gobain in Japan in the field of materials.

The INC has established contractual relationships in Europe beyond its actions under the Horizon 2020 programme. These are with laboratories based in Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Slovenia and very recently in the Ukraine.

E2P2L, towards an alternative to oil

The INC joined Solvay in China thanks to its research in green chemistry and sustainable development. This is a long-standing partner that is already well-developed in China. In 2011, the two partners founded the "Eco-efficient products & process" UMI laboratory (E2P2L). This involved the East China normal university "Laboratory of green chemistry and chemical process," which is classed amongst the Chinese laboratories of excellence. E2P2L aims to deliver new products and processes that are eco-efficient and able to reduce dependency on oil. Fudan University joined this collaboration in 2013 and two mirror sites at Lyon ENS and Lille University participate actively in the research programmes.

Structured collaborations

The INC and its partners abroad (Universities, research organizations, industry) formalize their collaborations by giving them international visibility through structures of various legal forms.

LIA, GDRI, Pics and PRC

The Institute thus counts:

  • 33 International Associated Laboratories (LIA), which are "laboratories without walls." These associate a CNRS laboratory and a laboratory in another country around a jointly defined project,
  • 8 international research groups (GDRI) that federate networks of researchers around major themes (energy, biomass, etc.),
  • 44 international scientific cooperation projects (Pics) based on pre-existing joint research projects that have resulted in one or more joint publications,
  • 27 joint research projects (PRC) for collaborations between two teams whose projects are evaluated and selected by both the CNRS and the partner organization in a joint call.

International mixed units (UMI)

To these are added:

  • 3 UMIs in partnership with industry: in the USA with Solvay and the University of Pennsylvania, in China with Solvay, East China Normal University and Fudan University and in Japan with Saint-Gobain and the National Institute for Material Science;
  • 2 UMIs in academic partnerships: in the USA with the University of California San Diego and in Korea with Yonsei and Ewha Universities.

A UMI is similar to a laboratory, like those found at the national level (UMR) in Universities or research organizations. They are located on a single site, either in France or abroad and bring together researchers, students, post-docs and technicians belonging to the CNRS and those of the foreign partner institution.

Rise in power

The INC has been at the origin of many creations in the last two years:

  • 2017: 11 creations namely 9 LIAs with the Ukraine, Japan, China (2), the USA, India (2), Chile and Brazil; 1 GDRI in Canada; 1 UMI in Korea.
  • 2018: 4 creations i.e. 3 LIAs with the USA and Japan (2); 1 GDRI in China

Focus on LIAs

The INC has set up LIAs with prestigious partners, especially in China, India and Japan.

In China, an LIA was established with the Dalian State Key Laboratory for Catalysis, to study zeolites. These are crystalline structures naturally formed in alkaline waters or sediments, which are catalysts in many chemical reactions.

In India, an LIA was set up with the Pune National Chemical Laboratory, to convert fossil fuels and biomass, and to protect the environment.

In Japan, the INC is a partner of the Osaka and Kyoto Universities in the frame of an international associated laboratory studying the action of light on switchable molecular systems at the nanoscale.

In recent years, the INC has especially developed its partnerships with major research organizations in Germany (3 LIAs): with the Ludwig Maximilians-Universtät in organic and organometallic chemistry in the field of catalysis and new synthesis processes; with the Max Planck Institut für Kolloid in the field of nano-ions interacting with fluid interfaces; with the Leibniz Institut für Katalyse in the field of homogeneous catalysis in green chemistry.