French UniversiTy on Urban Research and Education

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Headed by Université Gustave Eiffel, FUTURE is a scientific and institutional project developed with École des Ponts ParisTech and Paris-Est Sup. These eight institutions form the I-SITE Consortium and are signatories to the agreement with the ANR (National Research Agency), main operator of the Investissements d’Avenir programme on behalf of the higher education and research sector. Awarded its label in February 2017, the project is a 10-year initiative, beginning with a probationary period of four years.

Focusing on the theme of the cities of tomorrow, the FUTURE Initiative’s scientific project is structured around three challenges: the resource- and energy-efficient city, the safe and resilient city, the citizen-centred smart city. Its goal is to “foster cross-fertilisation between the knowledge and skills present in the so-called hard sciences, the engineering sciences and the social sciences”. To achieve this, it draws on:

  1. a very high level of interdisciplinarity,
  2. a multiscale approach (from the laboratory to the regional pilot),
  3. a single system of infrastructures and platforms,
  4. joint innovation in cooperation with societal and economic partners.

The project also entails the creation of a new institution capable of maintaining its strategy over the long term, whether in research, education, support for economic development and public policies, or in terms of partnerships and resources. This institution is a new type of university in France, founded on a national research organisation, Ifsttar, a university, UPEM, an elite school of architecture, École d’Architecture de la Ville et des Territoires Paris-Est – Eav&t, and two engineering schools: ESIEE Paris and École des Ingénieurs de la Ville de Paris – EIVP. In addition, IGN plans to increase links between ENSG-Géomatique and the university, while École nationale des Ponts et Chaussées will be involved through a partnership agreement.

The project will pursue its goals through a mix of strategic axes and concrete actions, which will be implemented in cooperation with the I-SITE’s academic and socio-economic partners, together with an ambitious human resource policy and flexible and responsive governance for a dynamic new integrative framework. The strategic axes of the project are as follows:


  • Development of interdisciplinarity as a route to excellence for the city of tomorrow through the Funds for Excellence, Interdisciplinary Research and “Internationally focused innovative infrastructure” programmes.
  • Attracting the best and retention of home-grown talent by means of excellent recruitment and talent support systems.


  • Provision of an educational programme dedicated to the city of tomorrow, through the School of Excellence programme and the new Institute of Advanced Urban Studies.
  • Supporting career development for Bachelors, Masters and PhD candidates through the introduction of the “Success and Excellence for All” programme and reinforcement of the partnership strategy with societal and economic actors at degree level and through apprenticeships.
  • Supporting pedagogical innovation by drawing on the site’s two IDEFI (excellence initiatives for innovative education), the creation of a Pedagogical Innovation Centre and incentive systems for investment in pedagogy.

Implementation and socio-economic relations

  • Promotion of action-research, experiment and entrepreneurship through the development of a unique range of experimental platforms and pilot demos.
  • Strengthening of cooperation with socio-economic actors through innovative forms of research partnership (joint programmes, dual careers).

International relations

  • Establishing and heading a European network on the city, by acting as a National Information Unit (NIU) on the city and coordinator of the equivalent structures at European level.
  • Internationalising education and research: in education, by setting up International Masters programmes and an Institute of Advanced Urban Studies; in research through the establishment of an International League for Sustainable Cities, to foster joint strategic projects with the 10 best international sites working on the city (TU Delft, Singapore, …).

Student life, campus life

  • Creation of a site identity and a sense of community through the sharing of a common brand, high-value community services and support measures for newcomers (Welcome Office).
  • The development of attractiveness based on creativity, innovation and sustainable development.

Perceived as an essential source of excellence, human resources policy accounts for slightly over one third of the I-SITE’s funding: 25% are dedicated to the development of jobs in science and to measures to support the scientific teams in attracting and maintaining talent; 9% are dedicated to crosscutting support functions for research and education (pedagogical development, project engineering, partnerships), via the Pedagogical Innovation Centre or the Economic Partnerships Office.

Governance is responsive and representative of all the site communities, with flexible procedures that facilitate effective decision-making systems, and participation by all the member communities, in particular students (Student Parliament).

The budget is €304 million, including €36 million in interest generated by a capital endowment of €280 million allocated to FUTURE within the framework of the Investissements d’Avenir programme, for the first four years of the project.

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