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Paris-Saclay is a research-intensive and a business cluster currently under construction in the south of Paris, France. It welcomes research facilities, universities, French higher education institutions (grandes écoles) and also research centers of private companies - in 2014, it focuses almost fifteen percent of French scientific research capacities. The goal is to strengthen the cluster in order to build an international scientific and technological hub that can compete with other high-technology business districts, such as Silicon Valley or Cambridge, MA.

This project started in 2006 and is likely to end in 2020. The main part is the construction of the campus du plateau de Saclay (in English plateau de Saclay campus), in order to launch the Université Paris-Saclay. The earliest settlements are from the 1950s, and this area was subsequently extended several times during the years 1970s and 2000s. Several projects are underway to continue the development of the campus, including the relocation of some facilities.


  • History 1
    • First post-war settlement 1.1
    • Second wave of settlement in the 1970s 1.2
    • Third wave of the 2000s 1.3
    • Development projects 1.4
  • Town planning 2
    • Areas of the campus 2.1
      • « Gif-sur-Yvette » area 2.1.1
      • « Jouy-en-Josas » area 2.1.2
      • « Martinière » area 2.1.3
      • « Moulon » area 2.1.4
      • « Orme/Saclay » area 2.1.5
      • « Palaiseau » area 2.1.6
    • Projects critics 2.2
  • See also 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


First post-war settlement

Several French national institutions settled on the plateau after the end of World War II. The CNRS is the first to settle there, headed by Frédéric Joliot-Curie, who bought the estate Button at Gif-sur-Yvette in 1946.[1] The following year, the newly created CEA (the High Commissioner is also Joliot-Curie) to purchase land. The same year, ONERA settles on the plateau in Palaiseau. The Saclay center was inaugurated in 1952.[2][3]

At the same time, higher education institutions settled nearby. The University of Paris is also up in the region in 1955 with the purchase of 50 hectares in the communes of Orsay and Bures. This Orsay campus brings laboratories of the Paris Faculty of Sciences (later the University of Paris-Sud) and moved to 1956. Other institutions followed with the installation of HEC in 1964 with its move to the town of Jouy-en-Josas, then with the arrival of the École supérieure d'optique in 1965 on the Orsay campus.[4]

Research centers related to private companies also settled at that time in 1968 with the arrival of the Central Research Laboratory of Thomson-CSF.[4]

Second wave of settlement in the 1970s

Ecole Polytechnique France seen from lake

In the 1970s, the École polytechnique and Supélec settled on the plateau,[4] the first in 1976 in the Palaiseau area, the other in 1975 in the Moulon area. The project had a scheduled time to install other schools soon after. The Moulon farm which currently houses the genetics and plant breeding was restored in 1978.[4]

Institutions on the plateau at this time begin to join together in an association d’établissements scientifiques (association of scientific institutions, AES) to reflect future developments of the area.[4]

Third wave of the 2000s

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, research centers of private companies settled on the campus. In 2000, Danone chooses to establish a center for research and development in the area of Palaiseau,[5] joined in 2006 by Thales laboratories, and in 2009 by Kraft Foods which invests 15€ million to install one of its expertise global centers.[6] Other projects removal were also studied, including a research center of EDF, studied in 2010.[7]

Two thematic advanced research are also on the campus, with the creation of Digiteo and Triangle de la physique in 2006. SOLEIL, which creation was decided in 2000[8] after three years of opposition of Claude Allègre,[9] was inaugurated the same year, built with a budget of 313 million of euros.[10] The project of neuroimaging center NeuroSpin is launched in 2006 also on the plateau.[11]

The first building constructed specifically for the campus is the Pôle commun de recherche en informatique (Joint Research Cluster Computing), which was inaugurated in November 2011.[12]

Development projects

The proposed new construction and renovation of campus was launched by President Nicolas Sarkozy who wants to create a "French Silicon Valley". Ultimately, the project is built on the presence of 30,000 students and 12,000 researchers.[13] The entire project is estimated to three billion euros funding.[14]

The research center of Hewlett-Packard in the Paris-Saclay cluster, France.

The different steps to set up the campus are part of several government operations.[4]

  • The opération d'intérêt national de Massy Palaiseau Saclay Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is established in 2006. Larger than the campus, it provides for the creation of a science and technology cluster on the Saclay plateau.[15] It is supported by "Grand Paris" project which also provides that the campus is accessible by the Ligne verte du Grand Paris Express.
  • The "plan campus" permits an investment of 850 million euros.[16]
  • With the debt, a billion is invested. Saclay campus is one of the winners of the « initiatives d'excellence » project so was awarded another grant of 950 million of euros.[17] October 30, 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed for the future operation of the project Campus Paris-Saclay staffing a billion for real estate transactions designed to bring together institutions, 850 million from plan campus and additional billion for investments for the future.[18]

Several institutions of higher education must be moved on the campus, such as the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan,[19] ENSTA ParisTech,[20] Agro ParisTech, École Centrale Paris, ENSAE ParisTech and Télécom ParisTech which moves was confirmed in September 2010,[21] and all or part of the University of Paris-Sud.[22] Particularly, AgroParisTech and INRA have a project for the construction of a common building in Palaiseau. It will include all activities INRA Île-de-France unlocated in Jouy-en-Josas or Versailles.[23] In February 2001, the Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University became a founding member of the scientific cooperation foundation foreshadowing the future campus on the Saclay plateau.[24] In November 2011, the Mines ParisTech finally withdrew the project.[25]

Several structures have been created for this project:

  • The Établissement Public Paris-Saclay, chaired by Pierre Veltz.[26]
  • The Fondation de coopération scientifique Plateau de Saclay is the structure that carries the project. It must unite the various institutions at the university and scientific level. It is successively chaired by Alain Bravo, Paul Vialle[27] (April 28, 2009 to his resignation on 30 March 2011[28]) and Dominique Vernay.[29]
  • The consortium des établissements du Plateau de Saclay, which brings together 23 institutions.

Town planning

Areas of the campus

Saclay map
SOLEIL on 1 June 2005

The campus has currently six areas:[30]

« Gif-sur-Yvette » area

The French National Centre for Scientific Research is located at Gif-sur-Yvette since 1946. The area has a dozen research units and service, and also 1,500 people.[31]

« Jouy-en-Josas » area

HEC Paris is located at Jouy-en-Josas since 1964.

The Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique has 1,400 people on the area, and structures for experimentation on livestock and microbiology. An extension of these activities provides the arrival of more than 300 people in 2012, with the construction of biosafety P3 for virology are under construction.[32]

« Martinière » area

The « Martinière area » is at the center of the whole, between the areas of Palaiseau and Moulon. It should accommodate several components of the University of Paris-Sud (earth sciences, economics and management, law and sport) as part of the development in the 2010s, but also several facilities pooled projected by the campus operation (conference center, students and international doctoral students accommodation centers, home business, documentation, logistics).[33]

« Moulon » area

The area includes Supélec and a part of the University of Paris-Sud, which has 1,160 people on the area including 860 students.

The École Centrale Paris, the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan and a part of the University of Paris-Sud should settle. Staff on the area should then be around 8,100 people including 5,000 students for schools and 5000 students in the University of Paris-Sud.[34]

« Orme/Saclay » area

It includes the Saclay Nuclear Research Centre, the Orphée reactor and SOLEIL in Saint-Aubin.

« Palaiseau » area

Map of the Palaiseau area

The area includes the École Polytechnique, the ENSTA ParisTech, the Office National d'Études et de Recherches Aérospatiales and the École supérieure d'optique.

It would bring together ParisTech grandes écoles in the project developed in the early 2000s : Agro ParisTech, the ENSAE ParisTech and Telecom ParisTech.[35]

Projects critics

Various extensions of the campus have been criticized by environmental movements in the early 1990s who accuse him of reducing the space agricultural areas.[36][37] These criticisms are reformulated in the expansion projects of the 2000s.[38]

Some also criticize a project that promotes too much the Grandes Ecoles, especially with regard to the governance of the Campus.[39] The Snesup (Syndicat national de l'enseignement supérieur) denounces "a project based on an elitist vision of higher education" and the exclusion of many institutions from the Board of Directors.[40] Management project initiated by the "campus plan" is also criticized by local politicians who criticize the state lead single, according to them, the project,[41] or other project stakeholders who criticize the state of exercise by them too dirigisme.[42]

The organization referred to as a business cluster is also criticized by the actors who doubt its effectiveness or fear that its development would be detrimental to other geographical areas, as in the case of the University of Paris-Sud and the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan leaving towns in the Paris region,[43] or in the case of grandes écoles leaving Paris.[44]

See also


  • Plan Campus du plateau de Saclay, Tome 1, Paris, March 2009, 65 p.
  • Plan Campus du plateau de Saclay, Tome 2, Paris, March 2009, 115 p.


  1. ^ (French) L'histoire du domaine du campus de recherche de Gif-sur-Yvette
  2. ^ (French) Le centre CEA de Saclay depuis 1952 : les débuts
  3. ^ (French) Le centre d'études nucléaires de Saclay fête ses cinquante ans
  4. ^ a b c d e f (French) Un peu d’histoire
  5. ^ (French) La recherche de Danone s'installe à Palaiseau
  6. ^ (French) « Rien ne peut couper l'appétit de Kraft »
  7. ^ (French) EDF envisage de déménager sur le campus
  8. ^ (French) Le plateau de Saclay sort de sa léthargie.
  9. ^ (French) Soleil a (enfin) rendez-vous avec Chirac
  10. ^ (French) Soleil va bientôt voir le jour
  11. ^ (French) Coup d'envoi vendredi du projet NeuroSpin
  12. ^ (French) Wauquiez : Inauguration du PCR
  13. ^ (French) Saclay invente l'université du XXIe siècle
  14. ^ (French) Saclay, 22.000 étudiants, 9.500 chercheurs
  15. ^ (French) État d’avancement de l’Opération campus
  16. ^ (French) Investissements d'avenir : Opération du plateau de Saclay
  17. ^ (French) Idex : Les dotations des cinq lauréats de la seconde vague
  18. ^ (French) Presque 3 milliards pour créer le mega campus Paris-Saclay
  19. ^ (French) Sarkozy veut délocaliser Normale sup
  20. ^ (French) L'école high tech du ministère de la Défense rejoindra Saclay en 2010
  21. ^ (French) Sarkozy annonce l'arrivée d'écoles de prestige sur le campus Paris-Saclay
  22. ^ (French) Saclay : Christian Blanc avance son cluster
  23. ^ (French) Campus du plateau de Saclay- Organisation de la recherche
  24. ^ (French) UVSQ, une université à l'âge de tous les possibles
  25. ^ (French) Les mines de Paris jugent incompatible l’Idex de Saclay avec le projet ParisTech
  26. ^ (French) Media Paris Saclay
  27. ^ (French) Communiqué de presse nomination de Paul Vialle
  28. ^ (French) Démission de Paul Vialle, le président du campus de Saclay
  29. ^ (French) Dominique Vernay élu Président de la FCS Campus Paris‐Saclay
  30. ^ (French) Les zones et les projets
  31. ^ (French) Gif-sur-Yvette
  32. ^ (French) Jouy-en-Josas
  33. ^ (French) Martinière
  34. ^ (French) Moulon
  35. ^ (French) Palaiseau
  36. ^ (French) Le nouveau schéma directeur de la région Les projets d'aménagement du plateau de Saclay mécontentent les écologistes
  37. ^ (French) Massy-Saclay, le technopôle sud L'un des centres de développement privilégiés de la région joue sur tous les tableaux, fait des jaloux et inquiète les écologistes
  38. ^ (French) Sur le plateau de Saclay, les derniers paysans de Paris
  40. ^ (French) Plateau de Saclay : en force, sans consultation
  41. ^ (French) Saclay : un projet critiqué
  42. ^ (French) Plateau de Saclay : un territoire d'exception mérite un projet d'exception, par Thomas Lamarche et Olivier Réchauchère
  43. ^ (French) Cécile Duflot se prononce contre la « Silicon Valley »
  44. ^ (French) Nicolas Sarkozy confirme le transfert de grandes écoles à Saclay

External links

  • Official website

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