Strasbourg: City of Science!

Strasbourg is a great place in which to work and live! This historic city is over 2000 years old, and boasts one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in Europe. It is home to several international institutions and has been the European Capital since the Second World War.

The city is regularly in the limelight – it knows how to stand out! European, enterprising, experimental, environmental, ethical… It’s a breeding ground for high-flying scientists, four of whom have been awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize (in chemistry, biology and medicine).

Strasbourg consistently earns high ranks in research-related metrics:

  • 2nd region in attracting foreign scientists and in scientific publications
  • 3rd public research centre and 4th in the national list for number of researchers per resident
  • 3rd nationally in terms of European patent filing in pharmacy and biotechnology
  • Strasbourg is home to more than 3000 scientists
  • Its 4 competitive clusters (ABV, Hydréos, Vehicule of the Future and Energievie) ensure it develops new innovative fields and research projects.

Scientists who come to Strasbourg to join the ranks of the ESF don’t feel alone, because they become part of a dynamic research environment including many private and public associations and foundations which contribute to Strasbourg’s scientific and academic influence.

Here are some examples of Strasbourg’s scientific community and ‘networks of excellence’:

The University of Strasbourg involves nearly 10% of the population. It owes its international renown to its research teams, which cover all the major scientific research fields. Almost half of them are partnerships with research organisations. The university also has about 15 members of the Académie Française as well as forty three teaching researchers (members of the Institut Universitaire de France, IUF). This makes Strasbourg a top-class national and European scientific centre, notably in chemistry, with an ‘advanced thematic network in research’ (Réseau thématique de recherche avancée - RTRA) and 2 Nobel prize-winners.

Seventy six research units, some of which belong to three research confederations: in chemistry, the confederation of the School of Chemistry, polymers, materials (ECPM); in biology, the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC); and the Federation A changing Europe in the fields of ‘Law, Economy, Management’.

The European Centre of Strasbourg for Public Administration – PEAP is a unique Network of Excellence within Europe, comprising the French National School of Administration (École Nationale d'Administration - ENA), the University of Strasbourg and its Institute of Political Studies, the National Institute for Territorial Studies (INET), the Euro-Institute, regional and local authorities (Eurométropole and Région Alsace) and the state. The fact that these institutions are based in Strasbourg contributes to its status as a recognised centre of competence in public administration and European affairs. The PEAP promotes and shares the competencies of the institutes which make it up through training projects, research and publications.

The European Institute for Enterprise and Intellectual Property – IEEPI. This institute has national responsibility for training small-to-medium-sized companies and research organisations on offensive and strategic aspects of intellectual property.

Alsace Tech is a network of twelve French ‘Grandes Ecoles’ (prestigious universities) in engineering, architecture and management based in Alsace (the Grand-Est). These universities chose to join together as an association in 2007 in order to work on projects and teach collaboratively.

EUCOR The universities of Fribourg en Brisgau, Bâle, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Mulhouse-Colmar came together in 1989 to found the Confédération européenne des universités du Rhin supérieur (the European Confederation of the Upper Rhine Universities), better known as Eucor, to stimulate student mobility and to encourage and facilitate cooperative initiatives.

The Alfred Kastler Foundation – FNAK, created by the Académie des Sciences, established its headquarters in Strasbourg and operates in the whole of France. Its two missions are to facilitate the movement of foreign scientists to France and to remain in contact with them when they have left.

European Science Foundation – ESF, established in 1974 as an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation, for over 4 decades, ESF provided a common platform for its Member Organisations to collaborate internationally on research programmes through its networking, funding and coordination activities. As of 2017, ESF has launched Science Connect, an expert services division. Building on ESF’s extensive network and experience, Science Connect’s mission is to partner with clients in leading successful projects and in facilitating informed decision-making through a broad range of science-support services including Peer Review, Evaluation, Career Tracking, Programme and Project Management and Administration, the hosting of Expert Boards and Virtual Institutes.

Human Frontier Science Program – HFSP. The research funded through this programme is of the highest level. Since it started, 16 scientists having received a research grant have obtained a Nobel prize! The objective of the programme is to promote fundamental research into the complex mechanisms of organic matter and living organisms. Its specificity is to further intercontinental cooperation between researchers in various fields (particularly of young scientists) by financing innovative research projects and postdoctoral grants according to three ‘I’s: Intercontinental; Interdisciplinary; Innovative.

The Gutenberg Group (Le Cercle Gutenberg) was set up in 2005 by Professor Guy Ourisson (1926-2006), an eminent Alsacian chemist and founding President of the Université Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg. The group’s mandate is to strengthen the relationship between the Alsacian members of the Institut de France, the Collège de France, the Institut Universitaire de France and leading foreign academies, and also to stimulate scientific research in Strasbourg.

The Institute of Local Law for Alsace – Moselle. This association is for the study and monitoring of the legal situation in and special laws applying to the departments of the Bas-Rhin, the Haut-Rhin and the Moselle, and for the provision of information and training about them.

The European Forum for Bioethics, whose role is to make Strasbourg a European centre of reference for reflection and public debate on bioethics.

The European Pharmacopea, in itself an expert scientific body, was created in 1964. It plays an important role in the standardisation of the quality of medicines and their certification: active principles, organic products, vaccines. It represents a body of the Council of Europe.

The Strasbourg Neuropôle (Le Neuropôle de Strasbourg). This organisation brings together 36 research teams distributed across eleven laboratories working in numerous domains of fundamental and clinical neurosciences. 

Its core principle is to promote synergies between the different actors in the field of neurosciences in Strasbourg, with strategic objectives to provide access to services in common and efficient technological platforms, to prepare for the future in neurosciences in Alsace and federate the community. It boasts high-level scientific leadership and knowledge dissemination.

Research Organisations:
CNRS (Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques)
INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale)
INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

The Strasbourg Biology Society (La Société de Biologie de Strasbourg). The Société de Biologie de Strasbourg (SBS) is a learned society created in 1919 on the model of the Société de Biologie, of which it is a subsidiary. Like its Parisian colleague, its role is to promote and communicate scientific knowledge in biology.

IRCAD (l’Institut de Recherche contre les Cancers de l'Appareil Digestif) is a private medical research centre founded by Professor Jacques Marescaux in 1994 on the site of the Hôpital civil in Strasbourg. L'Ircad is internationally recognised as a reference in mini-invasive surgery, and today trains some 3,500 medical practitioners from all over the world through the European Institute of TeleSurgery, the institute’s physical platform, and the WeBSurg (acronym of the World Electronic Book of Surgery), its virtual university specialised in surgery.

IGBMC (The Institute of Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology) is one of the main research centres in its field in Europe. It’s France’s largest research unit, comprising INSERM, the CNRS and the University of Strasbourg. Its mission is to develop cross-disciplinary research at the interface of biology, biochemistry, physics and medicine, but also to attract students worldwide through very high-level teaching in the field of biomedical sciences.

The International Pole Alsace BioValley (Le pôle international Alsace BioValley) is an Alsacian economic support organisation, led by the health industry for the health industry.  Those responsible for innovation, ‘Pharma/Biotech’ and ‘Technologies Médicales’ identify new opportunities for growth, funding and innovation for companies and academics. It proposes a variety of services: help in setting up and funding collaborative R&D projects, coaching prior to fundraising, international development, networking events and personal introductions. Its purpose is to bring together all actors in the life sciences in Alsace: companies, laboratories, hospitals and universities.

L'INSA (Institut National des Sciences Appliquées) de Strasbourg is a prestigious university for engineers and architects.

CRBS – Strasbourg Centre for Biomedical Research. This is a major project bringing together the whole scientific community in Strasbourg for the good of its society. It covers training, research and clinical care in biomedicine.

JSPS - Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) is the largest financing of fundamental research projects Agency at the Japan in all scientific areas: pure and applied sciences, humanities and social sciences. It has offices in 10 countries, including France (Strasbourg).

EUROSCIENCE is a non-profit grassroots association of researchers in Europe. Open to European researchers across disciplines and countries, EuroScience undertakes to advance science and innovation in Europe, thereby promoting the interests of its thousands of members.

From its inception in 1997, EuroScience has been active in shaping policies for science, technology and innovation (STI), from discussions leading to the European Charter and Code for Researchers, establishing the ERC, or the shaping of Horizon 2020 and its budget in the EU Financial Framework 2014-2020. EuroScience also plays a key role in RRI Tools, a major project on Responsible Research and Innovation.

Events - In addition to science-related events that also take place in various other cities (e.g. the annual “Fête de la Science”), the University of Strasbourg is very active in popularising science through regular cycles of conferences and topical events (e.g. Jardin des Sciences). Strasbourg is one of the cities in France and abroad hosting the now annual festive event “Pint of Science” (15-17 may 2017), bringing lively scientific debates out of the lab and more formal circles, to the general public around beers in pubs and cafés.

Thanks to these many organisations and institutions (with due apologies if we have forgotten some), and the work of scientists who come to the “Eurometropole” from around the world, Strasbourg has truly become an international centre of scientific excellence and leadership.


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