The French government has unveiled ambitious plans to set up a national agency for research that is to be modeled on the US National Science Foundation and to be financed, in part, by the sale of gold reserves.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said in media reports on Tuesday (June 29) that the new agency—to be called the National Research Agency—would have a "substantial budget," but he declined to specify the amount, which will not be known until the government presents its next budget in November.

Minister for Research Francois d'Aubert said that setting up a national research agency underlined the government's commitment to investing in science following years of underfunding with below-EU-average spending increases on science. Aubert said that the high-profile research agency would give "visibility to the government's extra effort to spend more money on science research year in, year out."

Prime Minister Raffarin also said that the extra...

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