Geneviève Fioraso, deputy mayor of Grenoble, and a Socialist member of the National Assembly (the French parliament), representing the Isère constituency, has been appointed minister of higher education and research in the first goverment of French president François Hollande and prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Fioraso is no stranger to research and innovation issues, which has been her speciality both as a member of parliament, and as deputy mayor of Grenoble, while she is also a member of the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices. Most recently, she was rapporteur of the office’s February report on the challenges of synthetic biology. She was also part of the group of advisers on innovation in François Hollande’s election campaign team.
Fioraso, who is 57 years old, has had a diverse career. Starting out as a lecturer in English and economics, she took a post at the Grenoble city hall in 1979, and became a parliamentary assistant in 1983. In 1989, she took on a management role at the high-tech start-up Corys, where she worked on the safety of nuclear and coal-fired power plants. In 1995, she became head of the office of Grenoble’s deputy mayor, Michel Destot, and in the early 2000’s worked as a marketing executive for France Telecom in emerging social and health applications. Elected to parliament in 2007, she is also chief executive officer of Sem Minatec Entreprises, the business incubator wing of Minatec, the renowned Grenoble innovation campus for nanotechnology and electronics, which has some 2400 researchers, 1200 students and 600 industrial staff.
Fioraso is one of 17 women among the 34 ministers nominated to the new government. This parity, promised by Hollande, is a first for France. The new government may undergo a reshuffle after the upcoming parliamentary elections, however, the first round of which will be held on 10 June with the final round being held on 17 June. For the full government line-up see the newspaper Le Monde’s summary.
Nature’s Q&A’s with Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande in the run up to the presidential election – “A question of science.”