Based on research, higher education and sustainable development, these investments were launched in order to keep the French economy globally competitive by 2025. The new Investing in the Future Programme (PIA 2) will allocate 3.1 billion euros towards creating new University and scientific centres of international scope. The PIA2 will be based on two action plans: Excellence Initiatives (IDEX) and the Sciences, Innovation, Territory, Economics Initiatives (ISITE). These two plans share a common point: they both have to be run by consortiums composed of universities, the Grandes Écoles, and research institutions. In order to be awarded one of these projects and continue to be considered among the great universities, the UNS must be the driver of an ambitious site policy.
A necessary site strategy
The Université Nice Sophia Antipolis is undoubtedly well placed to develop this project. It is a historically multi-disciplinary University, and has been identified as such by the Ministry for several years. It is research intensive and is one of the 20 French establishments appearing in the Shanghai ranking, the 14th French University and 6th Science and Technology University in the Leiden ranking. The UNS has 44 laboratories, o/w 30 are ranked A+/A, and 21 are co-supervised with the EPST. Each year, over 1,200 publications are published by our researchers. The establishment is a member of 7 competitive clusters and benefits from the foundation of several corporate chairs and sponsorships for the transfer of skills. Among its roughly 26,000 students, the UNS has 1,400 doctorates, and 18% of its students are from abroad, making it one of the most active at an international level. The UNS bases its strategy on Research and supporting training in Research. To increase its international visibility, the UNS must strengthen its alliance with the major research bodies (EPST), the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur and the CHU. It must also develop partnerships with the Grandes Écoles to improve site coordination. Without these necessary alliances, access to major financing programs such as the Investing in the Future Program (IDEX / ISITE), the State/ Regional Planning Contract (CPER), the European programs FEDER, PEPITE, French Tech etc.… will not be possible.
The consolidation of higher education establishments in the near future is a clear objective set by the ministry. Indeed, it is the signing of a single academic contract with a lead establishment that the Ministry is aiming for. It is currently official policy that the UNS should coordinate the academic site. This consolidation should be consistent with the two environments of the Université Nice Sophia Antipolis and the Université de Toulon.
The status of COMUE established by the ESR Act (law n° 2013-660 of 22 July 2013) is the status chosen for the consolidation of this group of establishments. The Université Côte d’Azur (UCA) should thus see the light of day in the coming months in the form of a COMUE. This will be mainly focused on the research strategy. Mr Jean Marc Gambaudo, the current Director of the INLN, has been appointed by the key stakeholders of the ESR of the academy, alongside the Vice-President for Strategy and Development, to back and coordinate the COMUE and DEX Project.
Implementation schedule: the priority of IDEX projects
To respond to major IDEX/ISITE projects, the COMUE UCA should be set up as soon as possible. It is currently under negotiation, particularly with the EPST. It should be proposed to the Ministry in the summer of 2014.
The definition of the scope of the research actions adopted in the UCA for the PIA2 file, in collaboration with the laboratories, should be completed in October in accordance with the IDEX specifications, which should be available during the summer. The IDEX project will be designed to allow potential transformation into an ISITE project depending on the international jury's opinion. These excellence in research actions should spring, in collaboration with the various components, from actions of excellence in training matters. The file should be completed during November 2014, for a bid to be submitted in December. The recruitment of a firm of consultants to support all phases of the bidding process is under way. The contract shall be published at the end of June 2014. The winning bidder must have been successful in the backing of an IDEX project in the previous wave. In addition to its partners that make up the UCA, the UNS can rely on the support of local authorities for the financing of this phase.
 IDEX: Selection of research-intensive universities with a high international visibility with a broad range of disciplines able to hold its own alongside the leading universities worldwide (the top 100).
 ISITE (Science, Innovation, Territory and Economics Initiatives), a cluster with a strong thematic identity of high scientific quality in a more restricted thematic field, with a regional footing and high quality relations with the socio-economic world.
 EPST: Scientific and technological public establishments: CNRS, INRA, INRIA, INSERM, IRD…
 State/ Regional Planning Contract - CPER “campuses fit for purpose and major scientific teams, FEDER (European financing), "Scientific Leadership" (H2020 et S3), Investing in the Future Programs (IDEX)
 COMUE: Groupings of Universities and Establishments