Frédérique Vidal, France’s higher education, research and innovation Minister, came to Australia from the 26th to 28th of February 2019, with the objective of reinforcing bilateral scientific and academic cooperation. She came with a large delegation composed of university leaders (Paris Sciences et Lettres, Saclay, Toulouse, Rennes, Lyon, Nantes, Pau, Savoie, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, WASAA consortium), the presidents of CNRS, INSERM, CNES, and ANR, as well as representatives of institutes including INRA, IRD, IAC and IFREMER. She met with representatives of leading Australian universities and research institutions, with her counterparts Karen Andrews (Department of Industry Innovation and Science) and Dan Tehan (Department of Education and Training), as well as with the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel.
She and her delegation were welcomed to the Residence de France on the 26th of February where she highlighted the range of French-Australian partnerships that covered not only research and training but also the industry sector, since there are many industrial stakeholders supporting very innovative cooperation and mobility initiatives with universities. The AFRAN Energy platform was launched at this occasion by AFRAN Vice-President François Aguey, allowing the association and its emerging thematic groups to gain visibility, facilitate the networking of French and Australian stakeholders and build-up opportunities (more can be found on the advanced manufacturing AFRAN website).
Minister Vidal and the French delegation were also invited to the Australian Academy of Sciences on the evening of the 27th of February for a celebration of the bilateral scientific relationship. An AFRAN Pacific hub has been discussed with New-Caledonian and French-Polynesian researchers. Katherine Daniell, AFRAN President, had the opportunity to present the Association to the assembly, as well as some of its upcoming strategic initiatives, such as the development of the aforementioned Pacific hub and increasing activities and membership in France. On that occasion several other members of AFRAN also presented a snapshot of their collaborative projects with French colleagues.
AFRAN members played also their part at the Joint Science and Innovation Meeting (JSIM), an important milestone for the Franco-Australian strategic partnership, held on the 28th of February after a series of thematic workshops where many AFRAN members participated. François Aguey and Frédéric Hollande, two members of our association, respectively co-chaired the “Energy, Materials and Mining” and the “Health” workshops. They participated in the JSIM with Marie-Claude Grégoire (Human Health research at ANSTO) and Olivier Salvado (Biomedical Informatics at CSIRO).
24 agreements of research and training collaboration were signed during the Minister’s visit, demonstrating the shared desire to give new impetus to the scientific and academic cooperation between France and Australia.