The research conducted by INRA scientists has two main aims: 1) to expand current knowledge and 2) to respond to society’s major challenges. The institute’s work thus has tangible benefits for the sectors of agriculture, industry, and service.

INRA is committed to fostering strategic regional, national, and international partnerships at its competitive clusters and has consequently established firm objectives related to innovation transfer. As of 2013, INRA competitive clusters were working with 21 partners from 6 major industries: crop production, livestock production, bioeconomy, food and nutrition, environmental services, and clean technology. Across the first 12 calls for proposals by the Fonds Unique Interministériel, 70 of the selected projects included INRA scientists. These projects have resulted in more than 18 million euros of funding for INRA research teams.

The three INRA-run Carnot Institutes aim to foster and facilitate public-private collaborations. They are associated with competitive clusters and receive support from the French National Research Agency and General Commissariat for Investment. They may also ultimately play key roles in the knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) being put into place in Europe and in which INRA is a major player.

INRA is partnered with two energy transition institutes (Instituts d’Excellence sur les Énergies Décarbonées; IEEDs). These IEEDs rely on public-private partnerships, which means they can draw on both academic and industry research, and receive funding from the French Stimulus Initiative. The first, IFMAS, is developing new technologies to make innovative materials from plants and the second, GreenStars, is striving to generate biofuels and other products from microalgae. INRA is also involved in the PIVERT IEED (an institute in the Picardy region focused on the production of novel, plant-based products, teaching, and technological research) in the field of green chemistry projects of relevance to the oilseed and forestry industries.

Furthermore, INRA has established two industrial biotechnology catalysts that have also received French Stimulus Initiative funding. Toulouse White Biotechnologies is developing biotechnology tools, and MetaGenoPoliS is exploring the relationship between the intestinal microbiota and human health.

Since the publication of its charter for intellectual property in 2003, INRA has been committed to managing the public dissemination of the benefits arising from its research. Consequently, it has established two private companies over which it retains complete control and that it uses to transfer innovations of industrial and commercial significance (which includes the negotiation of licence agreements).

- Inra Transfert helps share the many different forms of INRA expertise
- Agri-Obtentions markets innovative INRA-developed plant varietals

INRA joined with CIRAD, IFREMER, and IRSTEA to found Quae, a scientific publishing house. The publisher seeks to foster exchanges among scientists, encourage public debate, promote the transfer of knowledge and expertise, and inform policy decisions.