Pierre Piganiol emphasizes, in his own article in this issue, the importance of foresight studies in drawing up an R&D policy which, of necessity, looks to the long term. In response to this need and to the need to give a new stimulus (but what?) to French research policy the French association for technical research (Association nationale de la recherche technique, ANRT) has launched a future-oriented study of the French system of research and innovation.
Jacques Lesourne, chairman of the steering committee of the "Futuris" project, offers his view of the French system of research and innovation, then shows how the arrangements made in France after the Second World War are now having to face the need for reform, if only because of the radically different context in which we find ourselves and the challenges of the next few years.
After a brief sketch of how this vast exercise in foresight is being organized, drawing on a very large number of experts, and the various methods used (in particular scenario-building), he summarizes the main lessons to be learned from it. Above all he stresses the need to step up substantially the investment in R&D in France (with a look at the roles that public authorities and business should play in this) as well as the need for in-depth reform of the way that research is organized if it is to become more productive.
Lastly, and given that the French government has announced that it proposes to introduce legislation about the direction and programming of research, he makes some recommendations, based on the work of Futuris, directed at the drafters of the new law, whose contents are eagerly awaited.