CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences contributes its innovative expertise in fields as varied as education, health, transport and mobility, regional planning, auditing and company management, heritage preservation and restoration, the energy transition or social innovation at different levels (national, regional, etc.) and at all strata of society.


CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences - a springboard for innovation

To support scientific projects which create or respond to the requirements of companies, public actors or society, the CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences's "Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department" detects and supports projects with potential for transfer. It advises HSS research teams throughout France and in other countries in collaboration with the Partnership and Technology Transfer Department (SPV) at the CNRS regional offices, the Business Relations Department (DRE), the CNRS Innovation Office(DGDI) and the CNRS Innovation section.

All fields of HSS research can produce results with potential for transfer. These projects have one point in common - they are all linked to a great many important economic, cultural and social issues.

Five categories of results from HSS research can be considered as having potential for transfer to society and the private sector:

  • inventions or discoveries which can be immediately implemented by socio-economic actors with the aim of obtaining a competitive advantage through filing a licence or a patent;
  • method/methodology and/or know-how;
  • databases;
  • graphic, visual, audiovisual or artistic creations;
  • software programmes.

Key figures

Source : Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department, InSHS, 19/11/2021

4043 research collaboration contracts
1074 service provision agreements
64 equipment transfer agreements
3 industrial chairs
12 joint laboratories with an industrial partner

(5 of which are currently active)

42 start-up

(30 of which are currently active)

46 software programmes

registered with the French Agency for the Protection of Programmes

22 patents
29 licences

Innovation transfer tools

The humanities and social sciences bring high added value to many applied research processes. They lead to innovations that can be taken up by society, the economic sphere and the public authorities. CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences's innovation policy is particularly based on sharing data and knowledge.

Research collaboration contracts

The constant reciprocal exchanges between research teams, the economic world and civil society are ever-increasing and produce numerous projects and initiatives aimed at transferring new knowledge, services, tools and technical products. Research collaboration contracts are a particularly well-adapted tool for advancing knowledge on a particular theme or issue.

The average duration of these research collaboration contracts varies considerably but generally ranges from one to three years with a precise objective defined as soon as the contract is signed.

In this context, CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences laboratories have now signed over 4000 collaboration contracts.

Associated research laboratories

Partnerships with industrial corporations …

LabComs are an example of public-private partnerships which contractually unite a research unit and a company to work on a renewable four-year development project with joint governance.

Each LabCom requires a research programme to be co-constructed and co-directed with the partner company along with the appropriate human, material and budgetary commitments. Unlike research collaboration contracts set up to work on a specific project, LabComs are based on an annually updated programme and objectives.

These laboratories' steering committees bring together representatives of the CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences and the partner organisations to monitor and steer the programme with the support of the joint laboratory's scientific management.

… to combine research and innovation

LabComs provide access to equipment, platforms and data corpora for the laboratories involved. They generate a wealth of scientific output and filed patents while enabling results to be put to use. For companies, they guarantee scientific excellence and facilitate the emergence of technical and software innovations which create significant added value. These LabComs are also particularly suitable for students wishing to complete a thesis in the framework of the 'Cifre' Industrial Agreement for Training through Research. This kind of agreement enables a company to benefit from funding to recruit a young doctoral student whose research work is supervised by a public research laboratory and will lead to the defence of a thesis.

Protecting innovation with patents and licences

To help leaders of innovative projects transfer the results of their work to the socio-economic sphere, the InSHS and the CNRS's dedicated technology transfer managers work together to file patents and sign operating licences.

Project leaders who believe that their research could be the subject of an invention or innovation declaration must inform their unit management and contact their CNRS regional office's Partnership and Technology Transfer Department (SPV). The SPV informs the Institute's Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department so that it can carry out an expert assessment of the application. After the case has been examined by CNRS Innovation, the department in charge of managing the patent portfolio, the most suitable innovation transfer process is implemented for the project.

Certain sections of The Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation (PACTE law dated May 22nd2019) have modified the Allègre law on innovation and research of July 13th1999. The aim was to simplify the process for researchers wishing to create or participate in a company.

The PACTE Act regulates and facilitates three measures enabling a researcher to take part in the creation of a company as a partner or manager, provide scientific advice or assistance to companies and become a member of a company's management bodies.

There is just one condition for those wishing to benefit from this scheme - they need to have been continuously employed by the CNRS for at least a year, regardless of their CNRS rank (researchers, academics, engineers and technicians). However, non-civil servants only benefit from the first two measures namely business creation and scientific assistance. Employees should apply for authorisation from their public employer in accordance with the conditions of the general provisions of the Research Code (Article L531-14) before negotiating the transfer contract and registering the company in the Trade and Companies Register (RCS).

The InSHS's Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department advises and supports project leaders who wish to set up their own company in cooperation with CNRS Innovation's 'start-up department' and its ad hoc RISE programme set up in 2019.

The RISE programme chooses the most promising start-up creation projects in two annual selection rounds. It also provides entrepreneurial support (intellectual property study and strategy, business plan, patent mapping, building the right contacts, finding public or private funding, entrepreneurial training, team building). The projects selected in the framework of RISE have a level of maturity that means the creation of a start-up can be envisaged within the year.

CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences is in joint third place (with the CNRS Biology) in the rankings of the 10 scientific directions for the number of projects submitted to the programme since 2019.


The pre-maturation programme

The CNRS set up this programme to provide financial support for certain breakthrough projects with transfer potential which are at too early a stage of development to qualify for maturation support by a CNRS Technology Transfer Company (SATT). The selected projects are monitored and funded for a maximum of twelve months.

Projects involving fundamental research are excluded from this programme.

Since 2019, the CNRS's opinion is that usage, cultural and social innovations should be considered in the same way as technological innovation. Interdisciplinary projects led by the CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences in partnership with other institutes are also encouraged.

The Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department has presented 53 projects derived from CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences units since the programme was created in 2015.


CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences laboratories run around thirty training courses for public sector organisations, companies (managers and technicians) and even individuals wishing to enhance their employability in the framework of the French Aide Individuelle à la Formation(AIF, Personal Training Assistance Programme). These short training courses last between 1 and 3 days and mainly concern studies and modelling of and development planning for monuments, heritage and territories, societal issues and data processing and exploitation.

Find out more

Innovatives SHS. The exhibition which promotes research in the humanities and social sciences

The CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences Innovation, Valorization and Industrial Partnership Department works in close collaboration with the Institute's Communication Pole to raise awareness of projects which promote the Institute's research results.

The InSHS created the Innovatives SHS exhibition, its flagship event and a splendid showcase for the diversity of expertise of humanities and social sciences researchers. The CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences has already organized four of these events - in Paris in 2013 and 2015, in Marseille in 2017 and in Lille in 2019. The next Innovatives SHS exhibition will take place in May 2022 on the Condorcet Campus in northern Paris.

The exhibitors come from research teams of all kinds - research units in France and other countries, host teams, Labcoms and start-ups derived from CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences units. Often they have developed their projects in collaboration with an industrial company, local authority or association.

In addition, the exhibition encourages meetings and experience-sharing between exhibitors themselves as well as between exhibitors and visitors. It is an event which is highly conducive to help partnerships to begin and develop and to promote exchanges with socio-economic stakeholders likely to be interested in the software, platforms, technologies and know-how presented by the exhibitors.