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Covid-19 Flash call: the French National Research Agency (ANR) funds 86 projects totalling €14.5 million and opens a new call for Research-Action projects

As part of the Covid-19 Flash call, which aims to mobilise scientific communities in response to the evolving epidemic, the French National Research Agency (ANR) has completed the review process and awarded immediate funding to 86 research projects covering a wide range of issues related to the crisis. The budget for the call has increased substantially, to €14.5 million, thanks to emergency funding pledged by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) and financial partners. In light of the evolving situation, ANR has opened a new call for Research-Action projects on Covid-19 to address urgent needs.

See the list of selected projects

The Covid-19 Flash call, launched on 6 March, aims to mobilise the scientific community in efforts to tackle the four priorities identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), under the scientific guidance of the REsearch and ACTion targeting emerging infectious diseases (REACTing) consortium and coordinated by Inserm and the French Ministry for Research. In light of the exceptional circumstances, ANR has introduced an accelerated and streamlined process to address urgent research needs, while maintaining the principles of peer review.

By the closing date of the Covid-19 Flash call, 23 March, 270 eligible projects had been received. On 26 March, ANR gave the green light to 44 projects selected by the Scientific Evaluation Panel on the basis that they met the criteria and qualified as urgent in connection with the health crisis.

Upon completion of the review process, the Scientific Evaluation Panel recommended 86 projects for immediate funding, plus an additional list of 40 projects.

Initially, the budget for the call was €3 million. Now, thanks to emergency funding pledged by MESRI, and the support of the Foundation for Medical Research (FRM), the budget stands at €14.5 million.

A strong response to the call from scientific communities has prompted other financial partners to express an interest, join the effort and directly support the selected projects, including the Pays de la Loire, Normandy, Grand Est, Occitanie, Hauts-de-France and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regions. The additional resources will allow even more projects to receive funding.

Although the selected projects cover a wide range of scientific disciplines and issues, they all have one thing in common: their aim is to produce knowledge and contribute to the fight against the epidemic. Most address issues spanning two or more of the call’s four themes.

  • Theme 1: Epidemiological and translational studies
  • Theme 2: Physiopathogenesis of the disease (virus-host interactions and immune response)
  • Theme 3: Infection prevention and control measures in healthcare settings (including the best ways to protect healthcare staff) and in communities
  • Theme 4: Ethics – approaches to the response from the humanities and social sciences

Across all the themes, many projects are interdisciplinary in nature, often including a humanities and social sciences aspect and a digital and IT element.

RA-Covid-19: a new call opening on 15 April 2020 to address new research needs

In order to adapt to the evolving situation and allow the submission and review of even more projects under the same arrangements, ANR will launch a new call for Research-Action projects on Covid-19 (RA-Covid-19) dedicated to short-term research (3–12 months). The call will open on 15 April and remain open until 28 October 2020 (the deadline may be extended depending on how the health crisis evolves). This new call, which picks up where the Flash call left off, is specifically intended for action research projects, i.e. urgent and rapid projects with outputs that can be implemented in society within just a few months.

The call covers themes including:

  • prevention measures
  • treatments, including vaccines
  • large-scale testing
  • seroprevalence surveys
  • epidemiological rebounds
  • lockdown exit strategies and implementation
  • post-crisis aspects (in terms of health, the economy, the environment, personal relations, or social changes and economic impacts)
  • One Health initiatives (integrated, unified and systems-based approaches to public, animal and environmental health, etc.)

The new call supplements the work of the Analysis, Research and Expertise Committee (CARE), which was set up to examine “ideas, actions and innovations, in all areas, that could have a rapid impact on the situation, and are proposed by entities or organisations that already have the resources to implement them, at least in the first phase”. The scheme was launched and is coordinated by MESRI.

Flash: an accelerated process to support urgent research needs

One of ANR’s specific funding instruments, the Flash call is based on an accelerated mechanism for funding research that requires rare information and data to be acquired, enabling the production of new scientific results associated with an event of exceptional scale and rarity. Project selection and funding take place on a short time scale, without compromising the principles of peer review.

About ANR

The French National Research Agency (ANR) is a project-based research funding agency under the authority of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. Its mission is to fund and promote pure and applied research, technical innovation and technology transfer, as well as partnerships between research teams in the public and private sectors on national, European and international levels. ANR is also the main operator of the Investments for the Future programmes (PIA 1, 2 and 3) in the field of higher education and research. ANR is ISO 9001 certified for all its processes associated with “project selection”. For more information, go to: 


Katel Le Floc’h – Tel. +33 6 81 61 12 97
Corinne Le Ny-Gigon – Tel. +33 6 88 16 17 49


Find out more:

Covid-19: how ANR is supporting research (in french)

RA-Covid-19 call for proposals (04.16.2020)

La recherche mobilisée COVID-19

Last updated on 20 April 2020
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