French RMNT attempts innovation by committee

from the well,-maybe dept.
An extensive article on the Small Times website ("French system ensures good research translates into marketable products", by Genevieve Oger, 21 February 2002) describes another French effort to centralize and bureaucratize technological innovation: the French National Network on Micro and Nanotechnology (RMNT in French), a system that (purportedly) "identifies and evaluates the most promising technologies, the ones most likely to end up on the market." According to the article,

Here is how it works. A research lab and a business must team up to work on a specific project. The public/private consortium can be made up of three or four entities, as long it includes a company interested in making the product if the research succeeds. The consortium then hands in a proposal to the 17-member RMNT orientation committee, made up of businesspeople and researchers.

Two members of the committee are put in charge of examining the proposal and drawing up an internal report in tandem with two experts chosen from the specific field. The committee, which is made up of members from around the country, meets in a central location three times a year to evaluate all the proposals. . . .

The RMNT works on a tiny budget. It does not directly fund micro and nanotechnology projects. Its job is to rate them and decide whether they are worth funding. The label of quality they stick to a proposal will allow the business-lab team to seek government funding either through the Ministry of Research or the Ministry of Economics and Industry. The goal is to have funding go to projects that have been evaluated and chosen by specialists rather than ministry staff, who may not have the same degree of expertise.

See this Nanodot post from 14 January 2002 for more info on the French effort to create a centralized technology incubation center at Minatec in Grenoble.

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