Last week, I read an article saying that Europe loves open source, but no one is using it, meaning that very few organizations or even departments had made the jump away from proprietary software and operating systems. It rang true, too!
The exception to that is the French, who are moving to Linux and free software at a noticeable pace. The reason is that using proprietary software drains such a significant amount of money from French coffers and transfers it out of the country. The "freedom" of open source is a secondary, but still counted, aspect of the deal.
Whether or not this "center of excellence" for free and open source software will yield any solid results is beside the point. What really matters is that the French are taking things seriously enough that they wish a repository of knowledge regarding building, deploying and using free software to be close at hand. Obviously, they intend using it enough to justify it's existence.