The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Europe's leading research organisation, and Lafarge, the world leader in building materials, have announced the signature of a scientific and technological framework agreement intended to strengthen their collaboration. The agreement acts as a driver in the field of research by combining the experience and the competences of the CNRS and Lafarge research scientists.
The expertise and scientific and technological resources available to the CNRS make it Lafarge's primary scientific partner. During the past six years, 42 contracts have been signed between Lafarge and a number of CNRS laboratories. At the current rate, roughly ten new collaborative projects are launched each year.
In view of this level of co-operation, the two partners have now concluded a framework agreement intended to facilitate and encourage the setting up of joint research projects. The agreement defines a framework for future collaboration in terms of results and organisation. It covers all possible forms of collaboration that may result in standard-type contracts: participation of personnel from one organisation in research programmes led by the other partner (in the form of special leave or assignments); research partnership contracts for research with shared objectives; co-funding of theses; technological research and development actions that take the form of Research Joint Teams or Public Interest Associations, or which are governed by a programme agreement; the creation of specific joint research units between the CNRS and Lafarge.
For the CNRS, this form of cooperation with industry requires a cross-disciplinary approach which is a source of enrichment for scientists. The new areas of investigation encountered within this framework enable fundamental research to progress. The framework agreement involves three main fields of scientific research conducted at the CNRS : Chemical Sciences, Engineering Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Mathematics, as well as an industrial affairs delegation.
Joint projects with the CNRS have enabled Lafarge to gain a greater understanding of phenomena linked to the behaviour of hydraulic binders, but they have also contributed to its innovations corresponding to key evolutionary trends in the building materials sector: reducing the overall cost of construction, appearance, comfort and safety. For instance, in the case of Ductal (ultra high strength concrete with ductile behaviour), some ten CNRS laboratories backed up the partnership between Lafarge, Bouygues and Rhodia with work on Reactive Powder Concrete. An improvement to the strength of plasterboard has also resulted from joint research between the CNRS and Lafarge.
The leading centre of fundamental research in Europe, France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is a public scientific and technological research institution, and operates under the authority of the French Ministry of Research. As a result of the scale of its resources, both human (25,000 people) and financial (tax-inclusive annual budget of €2,532.78 million), of the very wide diversity of scientific disciplines that it covers, and its geographical spread over the entire country, the CNRS is recognised as a genuine breeding-ground for scientific and technical innovation.
Lafarge is world leader in building materials, and employs 85,000 people in 75 countries. The Group holds top-ranking positions in all four of its Divisions: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete, Roofing and Gypsum. In 2000, Lafarge generated sales of €12.2 billion. The Group's Research and Development activities involve some 500 people around the world and it hold a portfolio of roughly 100 patents.