"Putting science back at the heart of society": Minister Frédérique Vidal inaugurates two major projects on the Côte d'Azur this Friday

Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal inaugurates this Friday the Red Bastide in Cannes, then the Imredd in Nice.

Two projects of which she experienced the first steps as president of the University of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis. Interview.

Bastide rouge and Imredd: two major centers of research on the coast?

The Bastide Rouge project was born from the joint will of Cannes and the University to have a pole of influence around everything related to cinema and series. Its vocation is to host, on a single site, training courses hitherto dispersed in the city, and to offer new ones around new media and storytelling. By taking advantage of the presence of directors and authors, so that students can meet them. This idea came from the wish of the University to establish itself on the whole territory of the Alpes-Maritimes, with campuses which are characteristic of its cities. The first model, in Grasse, is devoted to perfumes and aromas.

What is the vocation of Imredd in Nice?

This institute is completely original, in the sense that it hosts training courses, research laboratories and technological platforms open to the business world. This allows students to work in "project" mode, the objective being to have a place dedicated to smart territories and risk prevention and management. With a focus on energy, the water cycle and smart mobility.

How much did you take in when you presided over the University?

These are projects that I had carried out as president, with the board of directors. The decision having been taken, notably within the framework of the candidacy for the Excellence Initiative, to have a university which is very connected to its territory. I saw its conceptual birth, which adds a particular pleasure to come to make these inaugurations that a storm had prevented last month.

"French research is excellent"

There is also a storm over research in France. But you are improving the lot of teacher-researchers …

French research is excellent. With young doctors who are little regarded while they are very popular all over the world. Because scientific reality is sometimes undermined by opinions. And due, more prosaically, to unattractive wage levels.

Prejudice would drive young people out of research?

Today, sometimes very famous people deny the scientific reality of global warming. It is therefore important to fight against the discrediting of the knowledge produced by research and to put science back at the heart of society.

Trump who doubts global warming and announces the disappearance of the coronavirus in the spring?

This statement is absolutely fabulous: we have one more great virologist on the planet. An astrologer also, probably, capable of reading the date of the disappearance of a virus from coffee grounds. If it weren't so sad, it could be fascinating.

"We have the capacity to be recognized on all subjects"

In any case, you are announcing 120 million for 2021.

Two measures have been taken, which already seem emblematic to me. The fact that no more young researchers are recruited below two times the minimum wage, whereas today the remuneration is between 1.3 and 1.4 times the minimum wage. Or a gain of more than 8,000 euros per year. Or 2,600 euros if you take an average of all recruitments. In addition, the release of an additional compensation envelope will help rebalance the pyramid to make all careers more attractive.

Other measures will follow?

Of course, in particular to also strengthen private investment in research. When we say that we want an investment of 3% of GDP in research, we are talking about a third of public investments and two thirds of private investments.

And what are the areas where France excels?

One can safely say that we have a very long tradition in mathematics. But we have the capacity to be recognized on all subjects. Philosophy, archaeological sciences, medicine, biology … Today, all the major scientific challenges call on all disciplines. For the smart territories we mentioned, for example, we need sociology to study the solutions that will be accepted by the populations, we also need ethics. Whether we talk about climate, migration or energy, all disciplines are involved.