Putting public research to good use

Putting public research to good use consists in establishing a relationship, albeit not in a predefined form, between public research players and the economic and social world. 

This relationship can take the form of:
  • The dissemination of scientific culture and the transmission of scientific knowledge, notably through publications, symposia, etc;
  • Co-development and co-creation of new knowledge, notably through research collaboration, joint laboratories and industrial research chairs;
  • Asset protection and transfer to socio-economic players or through a more entrepreneurial approach (spin-off, involvement in a company).
Through these various actions, you contribute to increasing the societal impact and influence of public research. You'll also be supporting societal and economic transitions.

4 key stages: invent, protect, develop, innovate

Putting public research to good use involves 4 key stages: invention, protection, development and innovation.
These 4 stages are interdependent, creating a chain of transmission between them, a virtuous circle1 that feeds public research and its influence.


Public funding for research and innovation
The public research funding ecosystem is very extensive. Centrale Nantes' research themes are in line with numerous calls for projects from public funding bodies (Europe, ANR, BPIfrance, ADEME, Pays de la Loire Region, Nantes Métropole, etc.).
At Centrale Nantes, you also have access to in-house funding schemes and programs (WEAMEC, Carnot Mers, NExT) with dedicated support teams.

Private funding for research and innovation
Two main types of funding are available: research services and research partnerships.
At Centrale Nantes, these partnerships can be particularly productive and form part of a multi-year strategy (industrial chairs and joint laboratories).

Setting up collaborative research or innovation projects
A collaborative research project stems from the willingness of several players in a consortium to carry out joint research, based on shared and/or complementary objectives.

These players may include academics, industrialists, associations and others. Collaboration can take several forms, depending on the type of project, its level of maturity, and the level of involvement and contribution of each partner (technical, financial, intellectual).

The collaboration framework must be set out in a written contract before work begins.


Intellectual property encompasses industrial property and literary and artistic property. Registering an intellectual property title (patent) or software (copyright) protects an identified result, enabling you to claim ownership and facilitate its use.

During and at the end of research work, it is important to regularly review the various tangible and intangible assets that have been developed.
Once a result has been identified and documented, it is essential that you contact the Development and Project Engineering Team (valorisation@ec-nantes.fr), who will help you complete the invention registration form.
Centrale Nantes will undertake the preliminary processing of the application and, if necessary, forward it to SATT Ouest Valorisation. An in-depth analysis will be then be carried out to characterize the invention (patentability study, market studies, pre-maturity and maturity).

Following this analysis, if the conditions are met, Centrale Nantes and SATT Ouest Valorisation will proceed with patent protection or registration with the Agence de Protection des Programmes for software-type assets.
Public release
Most industrial property inventions can no longer be protected by a patent once they have been made public (publication, conference, course, poster session, oral presentation, etc.).


Protecting the results of public research is an essential step in transferring technology, but it is not in itself sufficient to make them exploitable. They must be matured and avenues of exploitation identified.

Pre-maturity is used to finance projects with high innovation potential at very low TRLs.
Maturity aims to accelerate the transfer of innovative results to the socio-economic world.

Centrale Nantes' scope of action covers the TRL scale from level 1 to level 5+, ranging from fundamental research to experimental development, which may involve technology platforms and very large-scale research facilities in situ.

The transfer of technology, skills or know-how ensures that the results of public research are socially useful and economically profitable for the laboratory and/or researcher.

Various options are available:

  • Licensing a patent, software, know-how or database;
  • Co-development and co-maturation of a result as part of collaborative projects, chairs or joint laboratories;
  • Creation of a company to exploit the results (spin-off).


[1] Cercle vertueux de la valorisation de recherche publique - Réseau C.U.R.I.E. - Adapted for Centrale Nantes and translated into English

Published on March 7, 2024 Updated on March 20, 2024