The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, the best endowed in France with 900 million euros in assets, usually receives a thousand requests per year. During the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, she was “Bombed” solicitations, does not hide Olivier Brault its general manager. “The number one risk is strategic dispersion”, he emphasizes.
This philanthropic structure, created in 1987 by the heirs of the L’Oréal group, has focused on three areas: life sciences, the arts through the sole prism of crafts and choral singing, as well as solidarity. Without derogating from it, even if it means increasing its aid to meet the needs generated by the health crisis, as evidenced by twenty-three emergency donations released in 2020, for a total amount of 3.7 million euros – including the essential (2.4 million) was allocated to social actions.
Regardless of the number of requests, the ratio remains the same: “We study all the files but we answer 95% no. And yes at only 5%. We want to become fellow travelers, make multi-year commitments through conventions, allow enthusiasts, people who are not in the show, to move to a higher level ”, explains Olivier Brault.
To engage in “In the long term, not in blows”, he sums up. In 2020, the Foundation chaired by Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers gave 21.7 million to research for the life sciences, 24.8 million to the arts and 1.9 million to social actions. Or 57.4 million euros. This year, this windfall will amount to 70 million. “This support is not regular, it varies from year to year depending, for example, on the start of a building intended for a research institute”, notes the general manager.
The reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris after its fire on April 15, 2019 is the main commitment of the foundation
Olivier Brault’s major concern “Is to avoid settling into a routine and continually check the relevance of our commitments”. The evaluation of actions may lead to a recasting of some of them. Thus, in order to strengthen the attractiveness of French medical research, the foundation has created a new support program for mid-career researchers, called “Impulscience”.
Starting next year, it will be aimed at professionals under the age of 50, selected by the European Research Council, but who, despite the quality of their scientific project, have not obtained funding due to the limitation European budgets. “This will allow us to stem the transfer window of our researchers”, to which many American but also German or Swiss universities are now offering attractive research funding.
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