Scientific partnerships: a key to innovation

Pushing back the boundaries of technology to develop innovative new concepts means working closely with the scientific community. At Safran we call on a wide range of partners around the world, including renowned laboratories, prestigious schools and universities, and dedicated research programs.

Leveraging synergies with the world of research

Partnerships with major research organizations have long been part of Safran's corporate culture. Our first partnerships were with leading public labs back in the 1970s.

These partnerships cover all scientific disciplines that underpin our business sectors. At Safran we are very aware that innovation also depends on exploring areas related to our specialties.
We have therefore set up interdisciplinary teams, comprising both engineers and scientists. This setup allows researchers to place their considerable knowledge at the service of our core businesses, namely aviation, space, defense and security. We employ some 450 doctoral scientists and support the work of 150 doctoral candidates.

Partnerships that define innovation

We have formed partnerships with a number of prestigious institutions, including:

  • CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission). In 2013 we signed a framework agreement with the CEA to benefit from the leading-edge technologies developed in areas related to our core businesses, in particular nuclear energy, communications, renewable energies and nanotechnologies.
  • CERFACS (the European Centre for Research and Advanced Training in Scientific Computation), which teams up with Safran on high-performance numerical simulation, and optimization and multi-physics coupling methods.
  • The Technological Research Institutes (IRT) Saint Exupéry, M2P, SystemX and Vedecom, which work with Safran through various Investment in the Future Programs launched by France.
  • Onera, the French aerospace research agency. We renewed a five-year partnership in November 2013 concerning aerodynamics, combustion, acoustics and composite and metallic materials.

At the same time, along with Onera and French national scientific research agency CNRS, Safran launched five complementary research initiatives.

Vinci® engine
The Vinci® upper-stage engine for future Ariane launchers
  • Inca (Advanced Combustion), combining research by 15 labs on three types of propulsion: airplane and helicopter engines, liquid rocket engines for Ariane, and solid propulsion (especially for missiles).
  • Maia (advanced mechanical engineering): 50 labs are modeling complex vibrations and contact mechanics, in particular to improve forecasts of structural lifespans, and thus optimize maintenance cycles.
  • Iroqua (aircraft acoustic optimization): a network of about 30 labs, working on methods to reduce aircraft noise, especially around airports.
  • POCA: a network formed by Safran and the electrical engineering labs of the CNRS, which aim to pool the areas of expertise needed to develop enabling technologies for more electric aircraft in the next decade.
  • Haida (aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic challenges): five labs working in these two key fields.

Working with prestigious engineering schools

Strengthening our relations with leading engineering schools is a top priority for Safran. For a high-tech group like Safran, top training is a major challenge. Today, 11% of our employees come from the best engineering schools and/or hold a PhD. Besides our recruiting needs, we are also firmly convinced that closer ties with these schools will boost our creative potential.

Outside of France, Safran teams up with a number of prestigious universities, including Sheffield (United Kingdom), MIT, Stanford and Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) in the United States, as well as leading schools in China and India.

Safran is closely involved in these initiatives, participating in student forums, roundtable discussions with academics, holding seats on boards and by endowing chairs (for example, the one created in collaboration with the Centrale Paris and Supélec engineering schools, concerning robustness and the control and modeling of aircraft systems).