France has launched its first public utility research foundations, which are aimed at encouraging private industry and individuals to invest in public research through tax breaks.
Research minister Francois d'Aubert gave details of nine theme-based foundations being developed to promote research. These will benefit from new statutes that will make their operations flexible and entitle sponsors to tax reductions equivalent to 60 per cent of the donation within the limit of 20 per cent of taxable income for individuals, or 0.5 per cent of a company's turnover.
Under the initiative, part of government attempts to meet a target of €3bn (£2bn) for overall research spending during the next three years, the private finance will be matched euro for euro by state funds.
The first two foundations have been registered with the interior ministry.
In one, four industrial partners will contribute total capital of €4 million towards research into sustainable development in building technologies. The second will support research into and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and conditions including obesity and diabetes.
Seven private partners, including MacCain, Unilever, Auchan and Credit du Nord, will together provide €10 million. The themes of the other seven foundations are aeronautics and space; finance; ICTs and their effects on health; nutrition, focusing on chemical and microbiological safety and quality and sensory perception of food; alternatives to animal experimentation; road safety; and clinical and physical methods of exploration and treatment in neurology and cardiology.
Proposals for future foundations include transport and limiting carbon dioxide emissions; technology for motor, sensory and cognitive disabilities; biofuels; the converging fields of bio, information and nanotechnologies; and diseases of the nervous system.