In a very rich and diversified academic context, ComUE supports interdisciplinary initiatives and collaboration as part of its site policy coordination. ComUE works on this collaboration with its counterpart in the Toulouse Académie and, through the State funding it receives, can provide additional financial support for its members' calls for proposals, and launch complementary initiatives to the policies of each of its members.
ComUE has also played a part in the development of centres for the site (the perimeter of which changes as members, associates and partners join or leave), and it is also keen to support and develop other subject-based centres. Through its academic advisory role, it will also work to develop activities involving multiple institutions on the site, on subjects promoted in the communal section of the site contract: energy, risks, design, digital humanities, coast, etc. with the agreement of its members and in the context of calls for proposals that complement the programmes developed by these members. Some of these themes, particularly water, food security and health, are already the subject of joint projects being run by its members. Meetings can be organised to establish the current state of affairs in a particular subject and, where appropriate, to launch joint projects.
Structuring research in Languedoc-Roussillon into subject-based centres representing the different communities is one of the stated aims of the site project. Three projects to set up centres are already at an advanced stage. Continuing to structure the different academic communities is one of COMUE Languedoc-Roussillon Universités' missions.
The centres bring together communities from a number of laboratories and teams. Their contours reflect those of the doctoral schools. They are, or will be, responsible for organisation, communication and coordination with the institutions by transposing national policies to fit the local context. They are in a position to make proposals concerning the development of subject-based strategies for research and training. The centres will also be able to propose the pooling of technical platforms and documentary and digital resources on multi- and inter-disciplinary problems. They will help to generate coordinated responses to the different calls for projects and to commercialisation activities linked to existing commercialisation facilities, particularly SATT AxLR and CVT Sud. The centres will also play a role on the site in promoting the expertise of their community and organising joint events.
The Agriculture, Biodiversity and Environment Centre:
The site's strengths in agriculture, the environment and ecology are brought together in the Agropolis International association. The agri-environment centre consists of nearly 80 research units employing 2,700 researchers, or nearly 43% of all publicly-funded researchers in the region, as well as 800 PhD students. INRA, CIRAD and Montpellier SupAgro are its main players and, with IRD, founded a LabEx for Agriculture and Sustainable Development, run by scientific cooperation foundation ‘Agropolis Fondation’. CNRS also has a major presence in the biodiversity sector through jointly-run units, particularly a LabEx for Biodiversity (CEMEB) and GEOSUD Equipex, involving the University of Montpellier, IRD and IFREMER.
Within a region with a particular specialisation in applied biology and ecology, this centre is a leading hub globally for agricultural research. It works more broadly in fields associated with agriculture, food, biodiversity, the environment and rural societies. The science centre's reputation earned Montpellier the accolade of hosting the headquarters of an international agriculture organisation for development: the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CGIAR should open up opportunities to launch international partnerships with 15 research centres and 8,500 researchers all over the world. For this centre, establishing a proper partnership with the private sector is important, especially with the agri‑food industries, which traditionally have little awareness of R&D issues. The Q@LIMEDiterranée competitiveness cluster should help to resolve this. The Agriculture, Biodiversity and Environment Centre can also rely on the support of other recognised environmental bodies.
The Mediterranean Environmental Research Centre:
The Science of the Universe Observatory 'Mediterranean Environmental Research Observatory' (OSU-OREME), set up in 2009 as part of the University of Montpellier, consists of 6 joint research units that work together to collect and share environmental data from different disciplines to understand the mechanisms (risks, vulnerabilities) of the Mediterranean environment. The Observatory acts as an interface between the sciences of the physical environment and the biological sciences (ecology, biodiversity), and plays a growing role in the management of joint equipment and projects (e.g. the Sète marine observation station).
The Sciences of the Sea Centre:
The Languedoc-Roussillon region has infrastructure recognised at European level in terms of marine observation stations, the Banyuls-sur-Mer Ocean Observatory (also known as the Arago laboratory, Science of the Universe Observatory (OSU), and a component of UPMC). The station conducts research into different aspects of biodiversity ranging from genes to ecosystems, taking into account the effects of environmental disruptions on the different organisational levels of the living world. The observatory houses four UPMC/CNRS units and a UPMC/IRD unit in which the laboratories of the University of Perpignan are partners under a bilateral agreement.
At Montpellier and Sète, several research units also focus all or part of their activity on studying the biology and ecology of marine organisms and ecosystems. The Mediterranean environmental station at Sète, a marine observation station run by the University of Montpellier, hosts some of these activities.
These centres will also receive support from the Human Sciences Centre (MSH) shared by all the organisations in the COMUE-LR, which is responsible not only for boosting research in the human and social sciences, but also for opening up new fields on the boundaries between the human and social sciences and other sciences. More specifically, the centres will bring together the academic communities engaged in research into archaeology and prehistory, which already have an excellent international reputation. An Egyptology research unit resulted in the setting up of a foundation to promote a single hieroglyphic dictionary. As part of the international archaeology field school, a productive partnership has been set up with Barcelona and with the whole Iberian Peninsula beyond. The European Centre for Prehistoric Research in Tautavel should also be mentioned, which is managed by the University of Perpignan in partnership with France's National Museum of Natural History and CNRS.
A competitiveness cluster is a group of companies, higher education institutions and public or private research bodies in the same local area, recognised by the State, that work together on the same subject. At national and regional level, the State and the regions support the development of these clusters, particularly by granting them funding through calls for proposals by the single inter-ministerial fund and the PIA, and loans to SMEs or intermediate-sized enterprises that are members of the clusters.
The institutions in Languedoc-Roussillon are involved in nine competitiveness clusters, two with a global reach and seven that are interregional (orphan diseases and emerging pathologies, agriculture, renewable energies, clean and energy efficient processes for industry, regional risks and vulnerabilities, water, photonics and optics, sustainable development of the maritime and coastal economy), fostering academic and economic cooperation.
'Eurobiomed' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: orphan diseases and emerging pathologies
Interregional cluster: PACA, Languedoc-Roussillon, Ile de France
Eurobiomed is the health competitiveness cluster of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. It was created on 1 January 2009 and hosts the ORPHEME competitiveness cluster and the Holobiosud and Bioméditerranée clusters under one roof. It aims to leverage synergies between economic and scientific players in the health sector along the Mediterranean coast through collaborative projects. The cluster focuses on two main topics: emerging pathologies and orphan diseases. 34.9% of employees in the cluster's member organisations work in the 'R&D in other physical and natural sciences' sector.
'Qualiméditerranée' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Interregional cluster: Languedoc-Roussillon, Ile de France, PACA
This cluster aims to develop collaborative research and development projects on ‘sustainable agrifood systems and quality of life in the Mediterranean’.
'Trimatec' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: clean and energy-efficient processes for industry
Interregional cluster: Languedoc-Roussillon, Ile de France, PACA
Trimatec: Tricastin Marcoule technologies. This cluster supports the projects of businesses and laboratories in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Rhône-Alpes regions to encourage the development of clean and innovative technologies from the nuclear sector. It aims to develop within the region.
'DERBI' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: renewable energies
Interregional cluster: Languedoc-Roussillon, Ile de France, Midi-Pyrénées
DerBi: Développement des énergies renouvelables - bâtiment-industrie (Development of renewable energies for construction and industry). Its mission is to develop innovation, research, training, technology transfer, development, and business creation regionally, nationally and internationally in renewable energies applied to construction and industry. It is based in Perpignan. 27% of employees in the cluster's member organisations work in the 'Manufacture of computers and peripherals' sector. In June 2013, the State approved the extension of the cluster based in Languedoc-Roussillon (Perpignan) to the Midi-Pyrénées region. A branch of the Derbi competitiveness cluster was opened in Labège (near Toulouse) in January 2014.
'Pôle Risques' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: regional risks and vulnerabilities
Interregional cluster: PACA, Languedoc-Roussillon, Ile de France
Field: Engineering - Service
Run mainly by the PACA region, this cluster is based in Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier. It aims to use the combined energy and expertise of those involved to generate innovation and offer practical solutions for the management of all risks (natural, technological, industrial, etc.). 29.1% of employees in the cluster's member organisations work in the 'Manufacture of communication equipment' sector.
'Pôle Eau' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: water reuse, waste water recycling, cooperative management of water resources and uses
Interregional cluster (with global reach): PACA, Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon
Field: Ecotechnology - Environment
It was approved as a cluster in 2010. The cluster relies on its strong research potential, particularly within IFR-ILEE (Languedoc Institute for Water and the Environment), numerous SMEs/SMIs, and the presence of the three leading French companies (Veolia eau, Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, SAUR). It provides backup for the problems being examined by other competitiveness clusters in the Mediterranean basin, particularly Risks, Sea (in PACA) and DERBI. It is responsible for coordination with the other two 'continental water management' clusters in Alsace and Lorraine, and 'DREAM, water and environment' in the Centre region. 66.3% of employees in the cluster's member organisations work in the 'Computer systems and software consulting' sector.
'Terralia' cluster (formerly PEIFL) - European fruit and vegetable innovation cluster:
Speciality: emergence of innovative collaborative projects for sustainable economic development
Interregional cluster: PACA, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon
The Terralia cluster (formerly PEIFL) develops its activity in PACA, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alpes, and aims to encourage the emergence of innovative collaborative projects that foster the sustainable economic development of all economic stakeholders in the fruit and vegetable sector. 24.4% of employees in the cluster's member organisations work in the 'Other vegetable processing and conservation' sector.
'Mer Méditerranée' cluster (formerly Mer PACA cluster):
Speciality: sustainable development of the maritime and coastal economy
Interregional cluster (with global reach): PACA, Ile de France, Languedoc-Roussillon
Field: Energy -ITC -Transport
Awarded cluster status in July 2005, this competitiveness cluster with global reach, which became 'Pôle Mer Méditerranée' on 27 June 2013 aims to foster sustainable development of the maritime and coastal economy in the Mediterranean basin, Europe and the rest of the world. In Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Languedoc-Roussillon and Corsica, the cluster brings together scientific and economic players to look at maritime and coastal issues. The Mer Méditerranée cluster is a network with more than 350 members, 200 approved projects and an R&D budget of €546 million.
‘Optitec' LR Competitiveness Cluster:
Speciality: photonics and optics
Interregional cluster: PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon
The OPTITEC competitiveness cluster brings together those working in photonics and optics in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. It consists of highly‑innovative SMEs, major groups and leading academic partners. The south of France is one of the European regions with the richest offerings in this field, providing a wide range of expertise: from optical microcomponents to image processing, light sources to sensors, data transmission on optical fibres to lasers, eyewear to complex optical instrumentation, and telecommunications to space and medical.