France is to increase its scientific research budget by five billion euros over the next ten years, and will contribute 50 million euros to an emergency fund to finance the search for a vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus.
"The Covid-19 crisis reminds us of the importance of scientific research and the need to massively invest over the long term,” said President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, while the French leader was visiting the Pasteur Institute medical research centre in Paris.
The increase is an unprecedented move, he said on Twitter.
Research minister, Frédérique Vidal, said the decision is a matter of “reinvestment”. Research has “suffered from chronic de-investment for more than 30 years, and that puts France in a fragile position.”
The money will be used to increase the budget of the National Research Agency, boosting salaries, recruiting new professors, and increasing the efficiency of the system.
The 50 million for coronavirus research will be in addition to the eight million already allocated, and will be used for tests, treatments and the search for a vaccine.
President Macron complimented the researchers at the Pasteur Institute and Inserm, the national institute for health and medical research, saying they have been on “the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus since the first days of this crisis”.