Portraits

You have the floor, Minister Mandon

Thierry Mandon, French Government Minister in charge of Higher Education and Research, answers questions from Interactions

You have the floor, Minister Mandon

The report co-commissioned by the Ministry of the Economy and the Minister for Higher Education and Research from Prof. Suzanne Berger (Mit)* underlines the need to rethink the relationships between public research laboratories and the private sector companies. Two pivotal points emerge in this area. In the first instance, intellectual property rights do not constitute a financial objective, but are a means to improve and enhance collaboration between research and enterprise. Secondly, the less intermediate go-between there are between the research scientist and the entrepreneur the more fluid innovation will be. In this framework, UTC can be considered a mature actor and has perfectly understood the new deal and circumstances.

 

You defend the idea that Higher Education and Research must play an essential role in getting Frances economy back on a positive, upwards curve. Could you comment for our reader, lease the main conclusions and good practice noted in the Berger Report on Innovation, a Report you co-commissioned from an MIT professor, an expert in economics?

The main conclusion is that in the midterm public research establishment and private enterprise must move closer together, so that they can identify new areas to explore jointly and also to learn to cooperate better. This is not only the case for technological and applied research. Enterprises must also go out of their way to seek potential innovations in basic research. These explorations will offer a vision of what the market-place will be like in 5 to 0 years to come. One important and central consideration to bear in mind is the evolution of intellectual property rights. Far from adopting the vison of “treasures within” our universities, we adopt the position that intellectual property rights represents a means to bring research and enterprise closer together, in an exchange process that is win-win, i.e., a mutually advantageous situation. Public research must not just be seen as a gold vein to be explored but an actor with whom collaboration can and should be sought.

 

UTC is a leading-edge University of technology still pioneering in many sectors, combining the status of engineering school and university and constantly in the interface with the entrepreneurial world; can this combination be conducive to co-construction of an innovation-intensive ecosystem.

 

Universities of technology, and in particular UTC, were able to integrate their environments ever since they were established and are now involved in what we call today innovation ecosystems. Through its close relation with enterprise, and its international networks (indeed as a pioneer in the case of links with China), UTC has become a key actor in innovation projects and practice.

 

What developments would you expect from UTC to enhance its role as a university of technology on a par with other similar European of American institutions?

Constantly listen to your students (who are the real wealth of any university), constantly be in touch with your partner companies, emphasizing the international partnerships, to be more innovative in the campus pedagogy … in short, UTC has no choice but to be ambitious – ‘noblesse oblige!’