FRANCE: Lyon schools form engineering-business alliance

Engineering school Centrale Lyon and EM Lyon business school, two grandes écoles based in France's third largest city, are jointly planning to create the Yin Yang project, a multi-disciplinary international centre of higher education.

It will include a new school of innovation, design and entrepreneurship, a centre of executive education bringing together the specialties of both institutions, and a 'factory' for students, teachers, researchers and businesses to collaborate and develop ideas, projects and new companies.

EM Lyon has campuses in Geneva and Shanghai as well as Lyon and holds the three international business school accreditations AACSB, Equis and AMBA. Centrale Lyon, founded in 1857, awards 40 double degrees in partnership with international universities, and a fifth of its students are from abroad.

The Yin Yang alliance will have four main goals, said Patrick Bourgin, director of Centrale, and Patrick Molle, director-general of EM Lyon:

* Establishing a major international centre for science and business, first in Europe then globally, for the education of future business leaders and engineers.
* Contributing to the development and international exposure of the Lyon area and regional commerce.
* Sharing costs and resources, providing savings for the schools to devote more resources to research and education.
* Becoming a European 'green campus'.

Centrale Lyon and EM Lyon will keep their separate identities, while the centre will organise joint study programmes and student exchanges, and combine facilities and services such as security, libraries, ICT, language courses, and housing, restaurants, sports and other activities for students.

The new centre will occupy a single campus - the two schools are next door to one another, at present divided by a road which will be rerouted. Redevelopment and renovations will cost an estimated EUR150 million (US$220 million) during the next 10 years.

The alliance is in line with a national trend in France to group institutions within 'competitivity clusters' partnered with businesses and industry; and within higher education and research clusters known as PRES (pôles de recherche et d'enseignement supérieur) which are, aimed at making their presence more visible especially with regard to international rankings.