Support for research activities

With the prospect of the Gustave Eiffel University, the scientific momentum of I-Site FUTURE continues

The momentum of I-Site FUTURE was maintained in 2019 with the launch for the third consecutive year of a theme-based "Exploratory" call for projects. Much appreciated by the research units, this call is concerned with projects lasting one year, with funding of around €20k and a total budget of €100k, revolving around a specific topic and opening up prospects for further development. A call for expressions of interest for "Impulse" projects has been launched. This relates to a list of themes deemed to be missing from the I-Site's set of scientific challenges, as proposed by the Scientific Committee and the Advisory Board. Three new projects have already been selected and it should be possible to select three more if a fifth year of funding for the I-Site FUTURE is granted.

The "visiting professor" call for projects was relaunched in 2019. The aim is for this to attract 9 new high-level international researchers, for a novel format of visit which involves their presence for about 20% of their time over three years, making it possible to create effective international cooperation in the short term.

A gradual change in the research structures

The appointment of new laboratory management

When the laboratory managers within the departments are replaced, this creates an excellent opportunity for the research structures to evolve. Indeed, each new management team prepares a project for the laboratory before it is appointed, and this is discussed collectively with all the laboratory staff but also with the department management and the Scientific Directorate. Changes in the management team therefore very often signal a new start for the laboratories.

In 2019, it was necessary to replace 13 management teams whose 5-year terms were about to expire. However, only 5 new management teams took over on 1 January 2020. Indeed, one excessively small laboratory (MACSI) was closed down and another had already changed departments the previous year with a fresh project (GEOLOC). It was also judged advisable to extend the terms of the management teams of four laboratories in the GERS department (GEOEND, EE, SRO and GMG) in order give the department an opportunity to think about changes in their roles. As for the LMA in the TS2 department, the term of its management team has also been extended pending its transformation into a joint research unit through a merger with a laboratory at Université de Marseille. However, new management teams have taken over at the GRETTIA laboratory (COSYS) and the CPDM, GPEM, LAMES and MIT laboratories in the MAST department.

© Université Paris-Est

Creation of the PICS-L laboratory (COSYS department)

A new laboratory, PICS-L (The Perceptions, Interactions, Behaviors & Simulations Lab for road and street users), was created on 1 January 2020 by the merger of LIVIC and LEPSIS, as recommended in the 2015 HCERES evaluation. The project of the PICS-L laboratory aims to develop tools and knowledge based on multidisciplinary research in order to observe, understand, improve and evaluate the individual mobility of road and street users with various degrees of assistance and automation. The goal is, while remaining within the scope of the existing scientific project, to pool the multidisciplinary skills of the laboratory in order to address all the stages of a scientific approach from observation to the evaluation of solutions by way of theory and modelling.

The research in the PICS-L laboratory project is organised according to four cross-disciplinary fields:

  • The field of perception and supervision covers the understanding and modelling of perception systems and the main phenomena that disrupt their operation, such as unfavourable geometrical, lighting and meteorological conditions.
  • That of behaviours and interactions aims to analyse and model the behaviour of users when interacting with their vehicle, the infrastructure and other users, in different situations on the road or in urban areas.
  • That of virtual reality deals with the physical, experiential, ethological and/or psychological validity of hardware and software devices that allow the observation of the interactions between the entities controlling motion (human or robotic) and the travel environment (infrastructure and other users) under various traffic conditions, especially degraded ones.
  • Finally, the field of travel assistance contributes to the design and/or evaluation of innovative solutions whose deployment is likely to improve the experience of current and future road and street users.

A scientific and technical information policy serving research

In 2019, IFSTTAR continued its policy of disseminating its researchers' publications through green open access, which was formalised in 2017 with the signing of an open access dissemination charter that creates an obligation to deposit publications in its institutional open archive Madis, which has an interface with HAL, in accordance with the provisions of Article 30 of the Digital Technology Law.

Research teams have been targeted by numerous initiatives in the fields of scientific and technical information.

The interface of the Madis institutional archive has been upgraded both graphically and functionally, and links are currently being established with the in-house software for monitoring research projects "SI recherche".

 

Observation has been actively conducted on issues relating to research and scientific publication, in particular on topical matters from the world of publication, the trend towards open access, the evaluation of research and research support tools, supplemented by the feeding of a dedicated Twitter account.

 

Communication campaigns dealing with the creation of researcher identifiers and updating the corresponding profiles, have been combined with vigorous policies to encourage the updating of researchers' professional pages, which includes the "dynamic" updating of the list of publications deposited in Madis. Membership of Orcid was ratified at the end of 2019 and more than twenty-five practical workshops dedicated to the creation of researcher identifiers have been offered at IFSTTAR’s different sites.

Finally, IFSTTAR took an active part in Open Access Week, choosing a fun theme "Do you know about open access? Come and play documentation and get to know more!" during 9 sessions at the various sites.

As a result of this set operations, the rate of open access dissemination of our published articles, estimated at 50%, has reached a stable level, i.e. of the same order of magnitude as the rate of open access publication in all disciplines, as reported by the Open Science Barometer (48.5% in 2018; 50.6% in 2017).

Madis institutional archive © Anne Lefebure - Ifsttar

Research partnerships to engage with the economic world

The "Project Development Support" team has responded to more than a hundred enquiries from research units. Nearly half of these involved project development activities, the rest were related to facilitation activities (contract facilitation, participation in seminars, meetings with economic partners, etc.) or specific advice (finding donors, application letters, etc.).

2019 was marked by the continued roll-out of framework contracts. Three new such contracts were signed with ESI Group, OSMOS and INGEROP. To date, a total of 19 framework contracts have been signed with major groups and SMEs. These contracts are designed to build customer loyalty and expedite the signing of agreements. They are also one of the ways of boosting IFSTTAR's own resources, which amount to almost €20 million i.e. about 160 agreements signed every year.

Our partners are mainly from three market sectors: road and rail transport, infrastructure and construction, nuclear and offshore energy. They ask us to carry out projects essentially related to four scientific themes that are priorities for the Institute: the circular economy, risk management, new technologies around the 5th Generation Road and, last, the design of the autonomous vehicle from the point of view of ergonomics and new technology.

2019 also provided an opportunity to prepare for the merger of the teams that are responsible for relations with economic partners within the various constituent entities of the Gustave Eiffel Université. Thus, the duties of the Office of the Vice-President for Partnerships and Professionalisation were defined in the course of the year. Its remit includes taking over the duties of two IFSTTAR teams: the Project Development Support team and the VITTE team (Promotion, Innovation and Technology Transfer).

In 2019, IFSTTAR continued its involvement in Institutes for the Energy Transition (ITE Efficiency and Vedecom) and Institutes of Technological Research (IRT Railenium, System-X, Jules Verne) by continuing to provide the equivalent of about 7 full-time members of staff per year on secondment.


Signing of a framework agreement between OSMOS and IFSTTAR

An international initiative to support research that is geared towards the creation of Université Gustave Eiffel

IFSTTAR nurtures an extensive network of international and European partnerships. The initiatives undertaken in 2019 focused on two complementary areas: structuring partnerships and the internationalisation of research and training. The initiatives in question all sought to include the prospect of the transition to the Université Gustave Eiffel.

Thus, in terms of the structuring of research or training partnerships, a delegation from several directorates with international relations officers from the founding institutions (IFSTTAR, ENSG, EIVP) accompanied UPEM President Gilles Roussel on a visit to several universities in Quebec (Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke and Université de Québec in Montreal). This visit served to establish contacts in the field of training as well as to reassert the existing partnership with Université de Sherbrooke, notably within the framework of the ECOMAT LIA. The visit also provided an opportunity to officially inaugurate the work of the EVASYM International Associative Laboratory (LIA) for a four-year period. The theme of this LIA is the anatomo-functional evaluation of the musculo-skeletal system. It involves the LBMC laboratory in the TS2 department, a joint laboratory that is run with Université Lyon 1 and the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) in Montreal, Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the distance university at Université du Québec (TéLUQ).

In connection with the internationalisation of research and training, and in line with the cooperation agreement signed between France and Sweden, IFSTTAR, in association with members of the future Université Gustave Eiffel, organised a Franco-Swedish seminar at ESIEE Paris on 11 and 12 June 2019 on the theme of "Smart cities and mobility". The meeting was opened by the Swedish Ambassador in Paris and welcomed representatives from the European Commission, ADEME, ANR, Vinnova and BPI France to discuss future opportunities for cooperation between France and Sweden. French and Swedish academic and economic partners met each other in a special session held for the purpose. The feedback from these sessions was positive thanks to the networking opportunities they presented. In total, around 110 people took part, a quarter of them Swedish.

IFSTTAR is very active in its research collaborations with Japanese partners in the field of infrastructure and its resilience, and contributed to the final T20 summit under the Japanese presidency in Tokyo. The Institute's delegation was composed of several members of the General Directorate. Parallel meetings of the various task forces provided an opportunity to present the policy briefs (“Building Resilient Infrastructure Systems” and “The Infrastructure Nexus: From the Future of Infrastructures to the Infrastructures of the Future”) and to continue discussions on the specific topics they addressed.

Opening of the EVASYM inernational laboratory
1st Franco-Swedish workshop, ESIEE Paris
T20 Summit, Tokyo