Some traditions are like the best vintage wines, they get better and better with time and no matter their age, they are consistently characterized by excellence. The Institut de France’s Foundations Prize awards ceremony, which takes place every year on the last Wednesday of May, is one such timeless tradition.

Presided over by Monsieur Jean-Louis Ferrary, President of the Institut de France, alongside whom sat Madame Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Permanent Secretary to the Académie française and Monsieur Xavier Darcos, who has succeeded Gabriel de Broglie to the position of Chancellor of the Institute, the ceremony took place on Wednesday 30th May at 3pm under the dome of the Institut de France.

Respectful of protocol and the past, yet open to the modern world, the ceremony was the perfect opportunity to flag up the work of the Institut de France through the 200 different foundations under its umbrella. In fact, the Institut is a key financial supporter of scientific, cultural and humanitarian initiatives in France. The Institut’s status as a leading international player in this field is backed up by statistics showing that between June 2017 and June 2018 a total of 21.63 million euros were distributed by 70 foundations across 55 countries. Of this, 9.57 million euros were awarded to projects in the field of science.

In the course of a speech entitled ‘The Institute from its foundation to its foundations’ Monsieur Xavier Darcos expounded on how the vocation of the Institut de France is to bring to the fore a new France based on knowledge and learning, one that will be immune to changing political currents at a time when the world seems to have turned its back on reason. As an organization that covers every possible field of expertise, the Institut de France strives towards the common good and acts as a space where Académiciens and patrons can meet. No other organisation in France has this kind of expertise, which is based on three key characteristics: a global reputation for excellence, impartiality and creativity. Quoting a statement from Monsieur Pierre Messmer, former chancellor of the Institut, in words that are both optimistic, yet which express goals that are eminently attainable, Monsieur Xavier Darcos said: ‘My dream is for the Institut de France to become the number one patron in France’ – an eloquent demonstration of just how he values both his role and the principles that it represents. The ceremony finished with a tribute to the great poet Philippe Jacottet, who was awarded the prix mondial del Duca de la Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca. Madame Hélène Carrère d’Encausse took this opportunity to cite one of the poet’s lines: ‘Que l’effacement soit ma façon de resplendir (that I might shine through my unshowy service)’ qui words which are entirely in the spirit of a philanthropy that is both imaginative and selfless, in fact, just the kind of philanthropy celebrated on this Wednesday 30th May 2018 at the Institut de France!

Winners of the grands prix des Fondations 2018:

  • Patricia Brasil, the Evandro Chagas Institute of Clinical Research, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
    Winner of the Prix Christophe Mérieux de la Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux
  • Guiseppe Penone, sculptor
    Winner of the Prix artistique de la Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca
  • Nicolas Andreff, Institut FEMTO-ST research unit, Besançon (France)
    Winner of the Prix scientifique de la Fondation Charles Defforey
  • The Naachtun archaeological project, led by Philippe Nondédéo, CNRS, UMR 8096 ‘Archaeology of the Americas’
    Winner of the Prix d’archéologie de la Fondation Simone et Cino Del Duca
  • Catherine Boileau, Inserm U1148, Hôpital Bichat (Paris), Helen Hobbs, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas (USA) and Nabil Seidah, Montreal Clinical Research Institute (Canada).
    Joint winners of the Prix scientifique de la Fondation Lefoulon-Delalande
  • The international institute for French speakers (Institut international pour la francophonie), represented by Olivier Garro, Director
    Winner of the Prix culturel de la Fondation Charles Defforey
  • Homaira Nawabi, Grenoble Institute of neuroscience
    Winner of the Prix de la Fondation NRJ
  • Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou, the Curie Institute Research Centre
    Winner of the Prix scientifique de la Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca
  • Philippe Jacottet
    Winner of the Prix mondial Cino del Duca

Some photographs of the award ceremony: