Inria’s software gets close scrutiny by future managers
Carole Bonnani, Professeure à la Rennes School of Business
Professor at the Rennes School of Business, Carole Bonanni devotes a course to managing new technologies. To give her students the opportunity to confront more realistic situations, she now has them work on software from new research at Inria’s Rennes centre.
“The goal of my course? Have my students learn an innovative technology to be able to put its applications to use and develop a growth strategy, ” explains Carole Bonanni . “They have to ask all the relevant questions: what are the specific characteristics of the technology? Are there additional building blocks? If so, where are they? What are the competing solutions? What are the best conditions for market entry? What is the best licence policy? These and other questions will lead to developing concepts to build an ecosystem, find partners and develop value. ”
To give examples of her course, the teacher takes case studies from technologies developed at the Inria Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique centre. “During an event at French Tech, I had the occasion to meet Laure Aït-Ali, technology transfer officer. She had the catalogue of sotware developed by the centre sent to me . It seemed like an interesting idea to have my students work with somewhat rough technologies right out of the laboratory. First, it requires a research phase to gain a full understanding of the innovation and its potential. The technological building blocks often come next. Sometimes there are no other aspects that can contribute to a value proposition so it’s necessary to find complementary technologies, imagine partnerships, etc.”
After reviewing the 80 software programs in the catalogue , Carole Bonanni selected around ten. In products as diverse as GRT3D , a tool for modelling the dispersion of chemical pollutants in subsoils, Blink , a scrambler for anonymous web browsing, and Directors Lens , a previewing software for filmmakers. “I also chose Taler , the new electronic money invented at Inria. It’s an exciting case study because it offers a chance to examine the payment sector. It’s a market undergoing profound change. Businesses from outside the traditional banking sector are revolutionising long-established habits. First there was PayPal, then the Bitcoin phenomenon. In China we see new solutions such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, created by the e-commerce giant Alibaba. With Taler, we were fully into the topic. The students quickly understood how it works and its unique character. They then began an inquiry into how to manage the innovation.”
These brainstorming exercises then become presentations. “I’ve participated in a session where five groups shared their results,” recounts Aït-Ali. “Some produced really good work with very interesting proposals. I sent some of these reports to the researchers for their information.” The experience was also conclusive for Bonanni. “I'm going to do it again next year. I also hope to visit the research centre with my students, and watch some demonstrations. The contact with researchers and engineers will help us better understand the innovations.”