Arturo Guizar : from the lab to startups
A doctoral researcher specialising in radiocommunication systems, Arturo Guizar is also one of the co-founders of BeyondLab. The aim of this project is to create links between researchers and entrepreneurs with a view to creating startups.
When he first wanted to create his own startup, Arturo Guizar realised that it was not so simple for a researcher to strike out and set up a company. "I didn't know how to go about it, I didn't have the right tools and resources, I didn't have a network," he explained. I had friends in the United States, where the entrepreneurial culture is far better developed at universities. There, after completing your PhD, it's the most natural thing in the world to go on to create a startup."
Researcher and entrepreneur
Arturo Guizar, originally from Mexico, came to France to study, at the INSA Lyon, where he specialised in telecommunications. A six-month placement at Bouygues Telecom gave him an opportunity to learn about the world of business. He then joined the Inria SOCRATE project team as a trainee, before moving on to the CITI, a joint INSA-Inria laboratory. "I loved working in the lab, but I also need something more concrete." That's when he became interested in technology transfer. "There is a certain amount of mistrust between entrepreneurs and laboratories: the former think that research takes too much time and is out of touch with the real world, while researchers fear their technologies will be stolen from them. Nonetheless, if we want to democratise the discoveries of science and turn them into innovative technologies, then these two communities must learn to work together."
Turning technology into a product
He began by organising events to bring scientists and business entrepreneurs together. "I had attended a Startup Weekend in Lyon, for a rather unique session called Open Labs. I found the idea extremely interesting." The young researcher rose to the challenge and gathered together a team of researchers, entrepreneurs and communications specialists. Their first event, in February 2014, took six months to organise and was attended by 80 people. Two of the startups created at that time are still in business.
Raphaël Meger and Xavier Blot, two doctoral researchers at the Leti, the CEA laboratory specialising in micro- and nanotechnology, were developing a similar project at around the same time. The BeyondLab project came into being as a result of their meeting with Arturo Guizar. Following a test period, the concept took on its legal form in July 2014 before launching at national level, in September the same year.
"I presented the subject of my own thesis, hoping to find applications for it, which led to me being nominated for the MIT Technology Review ‘Innovators Under 35’ Awards in 2016," explained Arturo Guizar, who is keen to move ahead with his startup project.
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BeyondLab, two years on!
Since the first event in Grenoble, there have been many more held across France, from Lille to Lyon, and worldwide too, in Tokyo and Rabat. The concept: four researchers are invited to talk about the technology they are developing in front of a multidisciplinary audience (lawyers, designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, etc.). The aim is to connect business people with researchers and bring new technologies out of the laboratories. Working closely with local players and existing ecosystems, BeyondLab also takes part in major events such as Innorobo. Sandra Rey, founder of Glowee, a BeyondLab startup which develops bioluminescent lighting systems, is one of the 10 winners of the MIT Technology Review "Innovators Under 35" Awards. BeyondLab is now seeking to expand on the international scene and is looking for ambassadors to coordinate scientific and business communities in their cities.