The Excellence Academies: « Breaking the Walls »

The Academies will enable disciplinary de compartmentalization. The programs will be supported both by recurrent funding of strategic projects and by calls for projects. The Academieswill also aim to develop, in close collaboration with their research activities, a range of graduate training programs that will be both highly international and very attractive, and that will also fulfill the expectations of the region.
The five Academies of Excellence are: 1) Networks, information and digital society ; 2) Complex systems ; 3) Space, environment, risk and resilience ; 4) Complexity and diversity of living systems ; and 5) Human societies, ideas, and environments.
The Labex SIGNALIFE constitutes the core of the Academy of Excellence 4 and participate to the Academy of Excellence 2 as well as to all other academies.


Academy 4 : « Living systems Complexity and Diversity »

Academy 4 website

203 permanent researchers in A+/A laboratories out of 474, within a scientific community of 1 112 individuals
The extraordinary rise of biological design over 15 years of unbroken technological progress is bringing fundamental changes to scientific approaches in genetics, molecular biochemistry, imaging, integrative biology, and medicine. A community of living systems sciences, structured and dynamic, has been set up in Nice and Sophia Antipolis, including one in the very heart of the University Hospital Center (CHU). With state of the art research in pharmacology, signaling, membrane transport, psychiatric disorders, adaptation, evolution and development, its work directly involves important  questions on public health (cancer, mental pathologies, metabolic anti-inflammatory disorders, biocontrol, plant resistance, ecological management of agrosystems). The strong links with the main life sciences research establishments (CEA, CNRS, INRA, Inserm) have made it possible to obtain  remarkable results in the course of the PIA1, with the selection of three Labexes and participation in 3 national infrastructure systems. This Academy therefore proposes addressing 3 major scientific challenges of the 21st century – the pursuit of which is part of an ongoing historical process on UCA  territory – while at same time allowing it to enlarge and reinforce its scientific position on the national and international stage, and by effectively  accompanying the birth and development of a local bio-industry. Therefore this community possesses undeniable advantages in achieving the following goals:
  • Rapid processing of new data, incorporating local data with large masses of remote data. The construction of relevant physical or mathematical models will provide the most precise information regarding the biological system or systems being explored.
    This will involve strong interactions between researchers in digital science, systems biology, dynamical systems analysis in time and space – all developed by research carried out within the MSI
  • Systematic exploration of the special characteristics of an individual or a species; indentifing common characteristics that link similar biological objects coming from distant species in order to detect very early forking in the direction of pathological states, not only in man but also animals and the vegetable kingdom. This will be based on an integrated metrological approach to living systems, rooted in collaborative judgements with physics, IT, chemistry and engineering sciences. Priority will be given to the development of new technologies able to measure very large numbers of parameters, on a scale ranging from single cells all the way up to an organism in its complex environment.
  • Initiating bio-inspired approaches in such areas as information storage, new experimental models of living systems or of pharmacological screening, which, thanks to the level of sophistication of biological sciences, will become possible in the near future.

These developments could be part of the biotechnological platform framework dedicated to eco-innovation planned for the Sophia Antipolis site. The Biology-Health Reference Center in Nice for its part will enable an intensification of research and experimentation in the use of digital techniques in the «health and aging» field. In all cases, priority will be given to the development of original new experimental approaches with strong added value.


  • Academy 1 – «Networks, Information and Digital society»

    Academy 1 website

    196 permanent researchers in A+/A laboratories out of 317, within a scientific community of 897 individuals.
    The digital revolution, begun 50 years ago, is now impacting all human activities, especially thanks to the universal and instantaneous access to communication and knowledge tools that is open to each individual. This networking process involving a large part of humanity is opening enormous perspectives for accessing and processing the huge masses of distributed data; in the mid-and long-term, this will have a profound impact on all human knowledge. The digital revolution will also transform how human societies are organized; naturally this will raise troubling questions concerning fundamental individual freedoms, for example the question of data confi dentiality and infrastructure integrity.
    These types of research are at the very heart of the Academy’s preoccupations. They are coordinated by a local labex and two Equipexes.
    Three major ambitions are driving this axis:

    • Designing and experimenting communication networks of the future, combining high performance (for example innovative wireless photonic devices) with security and energy economy. To these new types of infrastructure must be added new distributed application development programming paradigms, forthe purposes of enabling storage, consultation, indexing of big data, management of computation platforms and virtualized storage; smart content processing. These distributed virtualized applications will assume considerable importance; they are what enables the processing of massive amounts of distributed data
    • Developing UCA excellence in Digital sciences. This is fundamental know-how, not only required for understanding the structural properties of networks, for developing program and data exchange reliability and security, but also for modeling and simulating problems in the physical, biological and medical domains. A crucial topic within this ambition is the ability to extract, from large data masses – which are potentially non-structured and partial – structured information and knowledge open to semantic processing and interpreting. For these reasons, this Academy will play an important role in MSI.
    • Improving comprehension of the transformation brought about by the digitalization of society, especially the impact of technological innovation and the role of physical artifacts in this transformation as well as the impact of its use on e-learning, on society, on citizens, through challenges relating to the Law, to private life, to ethics and even to philosophy.


    Acting as the driving force behind the «Digital Challenges» Reference Center, situated at the heart of France’s leading Technopark, these forms of research will also be designed to act as a driving force behind other UCAJEDI Reference Centers, and will contribute greatly to the activities developed in MSI.


  • Academy 2 – «Complex systems»

    Academy 2 website

    Recent decades have seen the emergence of a movement for studying complex systems that go beyond conventional scientifi c domains. The goals are fi rst, to discover the common fundamental principles that govern behavior of complex systems, are suggested by observation and experiments; next, to identify and utilize the super-structures that guide the dynamic behavior of such systems; such super-structures cannot easily be deduced from local characteristics at the unit level. The established robustness and adaptive stability of such systems can then be put to good use in a great number of applications.
    Through its involvement in two Labex projects, its presence among the 150 best Mathematical Science centers around the world (Shanghai), the Doeblin Foundation, which foreshadows the Academy, already possesses a remarkably broad spectrum of scientific activities involving complex systems, from mathematical to societal models, including complex environment physics, extreme phenomena, networks in the broad sense of the term, systems biology and chemical interactions.
    The ambition is many sided:

    • Encouraging, in transversal research topics, the identifi cation of common methodological approaches and the emergence of shared study objects, while generating feedback on the strong points of existing knowledge, both in fundamental research and technological knowledge transfer.
    • Creating and reinforcing links between teams from different domains, and combining existing skills in UCAJEDI, in modeling and simulation of complex systems, in order to place them eff ectively in the service of current signifi cant societal issues, linked to partners on the fi elds of health, energy, the environment, materials and communications.
    • Differentiating the site by using the success of the Mathematical-Physical interface, in order to leverage opportunities and the eff ects of momentum on other disciplines, especially mathematics/biology/IT; physics/biology, all the fundamental sciences/Human and Social Sciences (HSS). At the crossroads of all these disciplines, the convergence of activities around neurosciences and cognitive science modeling need to show the way forward, in order to initiate closer ties in dealing with transversal issues (in the methodological or resource-related sense). For these reasons, this Academy will play an important role in MSI.

    The challenge will be to position UCAJEDI at the heart of the development of the «sciences of complexity», in conjunction with societal and industrial preoccupations. The territories of the Sophia Antipolis Technopark and the Eco-Valley on the Var Plain constitute fertile ground for the activities in which the Academy is involved; the same activities are oft en to be found, to varying degrees, in the two Reference Centers implanted there.


  • Academy 3 – «Space, Environment, risk and resilience»

    Academy 3 website

    Observation, understanding, and modeling of our planet and our environments are major challenges of the 21st-century if we wish to give societies more control over the natural and anthropogenic hazards threatening the Earth and Life.
    Academy 3, Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience, is concerned with the observation of Space, the Earth, and our natural environments on the one hand, and with understanding, assessing and managing natural and anthropogenic hazards and their impacts on environments and societies on the other. It aims to foster fundamental and applied research and training. The Academy spans formal, natural and social sciences in the study of Space, the Earth, and the Environment in all its astrophysical, geological, geophysical, geographical and anthropologic aspects. It also includes the observation and study of natural, industrial, sanitary, ecological, and anthropogenic hazards, individually and combined, in a framework where Risk is considered a generic phenomenon. Solutions to cope with changes will determine our Resilience as humans among other species.
    The approach in Academy 3 is inherently trans-disciplinary in order to create innovative research, tools, and databases to better monitor and characterize both extraterrestrial and terrestrial environments as well as natural, anthropogenic and systemic hazards and risks to which societies are confronted at widely different scales.
    Four powerful ambitions are driving the Academy:

    • To monitor and better observe Space and the Earth. This will involve the development of new instruments and data processing techniques for ground-based and in-space observations in conjunction with European agency programs, major industrial groups, and competitiveness clusters.
    • To evaluate natural and anthropogenic hazards on land, at sea, and in near space. These hazards include, but are not restricted to, extreme natural phenomena, industrial, sanitary and ecological hazards. The use of this knowledge will foster more efficient approaches for risk management, including legislative measures.
    • To enhance innovative approaches in integrated modeling between the physical, systemic (life network function), and societal bodies and processes. Modeling will be conducted in the Center of Modeling Simulation and Interactions of UCAJEDI and will contribute to more efficient risk management.
    • To develop resilience strategies based not only on individual responses (adaptations of human behavior in catastrophe situations) but also on collective actions (public policy and territorial risk planning). These strategies will be developed in cooperation with IMREDD (Institut Méditerranéen du Risque, de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable) and the three Reference Centers.


  • Academy 5 – «Human societies, Ideas and Environments»

    Academy 5 website

    Very profound changes are currently overtaking our contemporary societies. They concern very diverse but interdependent and complex domains, such as economic and political globalization, climate change and anthropomorphic impact, the digitalization of relationships between individuals and/or organizations, the financialization of the world economy, etc. At stake are the very processes of creation, circulation and distribution of social wealth and the context of the relationships between humans with their natural and societal environment.
    The «Maison des Scienes de l’Homme» (South East) involved in a Labex and an Equipex , the Business School research laboratories, and the Art Schools College all participate in structuring the activities carried out in the Academy. Analysis of contemporary transformation of human activity will require more than the use of conventional images and resources of the humanities and social sciences. It will also require the application of certain scientifi c domains until now considered isolated and autonomous, in a spirit of transdisciplinary logic, and recognition of the need for combining diff erent approaches wich the phenomena under study, without however sacrifi cing coherence.

    • The first of them, in a historical perspective dedicated to times of great change, concerns itself with the various relationships that man maintained with his natural and cultural environment during the phases of great transition that marked them
    • The second dimension, essential today, poses the question of the emergence of ideas, of their modes of diffusion (distribution of discourses, web philosophy, social networks, artistic creation etc), of the transformation they undergo, and how they relate to the changes in question
    • The third dimension deals with the identifi cation of new fundamental characteristics of contemporary societies, and the analysis of their consequences as regards societal, cultural and economic organisation and dynamics. The place, signifi cance and impact of new generic technologies (communication and information technology; nanotechnologies etc) on the cultural and economic environment of contemporary societies and communities will be studied.

    The ambition calls most especially for an analysis of three aspects of the transformations currently aff ecting our societies:
    The approaches developed in this Academy have a distinctive characteristic within the french hss’s: they make extensive use of digital technology and modeling. They too will draw benefi t from the dynamics set in motion by the MSI. All in all, comprehension of the determining factors of these societal changes will provide a bett er understanding in order to follow and accompany the new ways in which markets, organizations and territories operate and behave. The fi elds of application that are targeted a priori will be developed in the 3 Reference Centers, and rolled out in the territory: in the tourist sector; the artistic domain; with a territorial overview; inter-company relationships.
    The five academies will also be aimed at launching à la carte excellence training programs with majors and minors developed inside an international network, along with ad hoc funding, and rounded out by Summer Schools and Masterclasses of international renown (prizewinners from International Grand Prizes, Academicians, ERC’s, etc). A virtual Center for Pedagogical Innovation (VCPI) will bring together available skills, instruments and databases, accessible on a dedicated platform, in order to enrich students’ and/or employee’s training, and in order to accompany innovative entrepreneurs.