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French Tech Cote d'Azur


The Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée Centre supporting the candidature of French Tech Cote d'Azur

The Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée Centre is backing the candidature of the French Tech Côte d'Azur with its "French Tech" endorsement to help the development of digital companies in the region.

Its objectives are: to develop the digital ‘ecosystem’ within the Côte d’Azur to achieve strong visibility in France and abroad, to attract new companies and to reinforce support for start-ups and SMEs using "accelerators", which act like incubators for companies already up and running.

Inria is a public digital science research institute and its aim is to ensure that its R&T production has maximum impact.  The Institute is involved in French innovation initiatives, transferring technologies and skills to industry. Inria offers a range of methods for transfer purposes: programmes dedicated to SMEs, strategic partnerships with R&D entities in large industrial groups, awareness-raising initiatives and support for company creation.  Within the framework of the Future Investment Plan (Plan Investissement Avenir, or PIA), Inria has received the endorsement of the Institute Carnot and also supports the competitiveness and growth of innovative companies at a national level.

A number of concrete actions have been implemented by the Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée Centre to support the growth of digital companies in the region.

Start Me Up 

This initiative is aimed at researchers and engineers from the Inria Sophia Antipolis-Méditerranée Centre.  Its objective is to raise awareness of transfers and company start-ups, using concrete examples and feedback from researchers and entrepreneurs. This initiative should be open to the whole of the Campus SophiaTech in 2015. The last Start Me Up brought together 66 participants, led by four researchers and four companies: IBM, ex Ilog; Digital Barriers, ex Keeneo; AutoDesk, ex Realviz; and 3Com.

Crossing the Gap 

Supervised by the Institut Carnot, this initiative is designed to facilitate work between research teams and an SME, based on a typical problem faced by the latter. Partners take the time to get to know one other and work together over a 12-month trial period. If the results of this collaborative work prove to be positive, the company then undertakes continued cooperation through a CIFRE (industrial training-through-research agreement) or Inria Innovation Lab thesis.  Two companies (Olea Medical and Missler Software) have used this tool since its launch in 2013. Five new companies have already shown interest in 2014.

Inria Innovation Lab 

This approach provides support for innovation produced by an SME, based on a dedicated joint R&D programme between a research team and the company concerned, for a period of two/three years. In 2014, three Inria Innovation Labs are currently in place with the following companies: Mauna Kea Technologies, MXM and Beepeers.

Startup Inria

Since 1987, the Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée Centre has paved the way for the creation of 19 spin-offs with Therapixel in 2013 and Mnemotix in 2012.  Some Inria start-ups are trail blazers, such as Ilog, listed on NASDAQ, acquired by IBN in 2009.  Realviz (AutoDesk), Estérel Technologies (Ansys), Keeneo (Digital Barriers), UDCast (OneAccess) are also good examples, as are VuLog (which raised €1.2 million at the end of 2013) and ACTIVEEON (which has just raised €800K for its commercial development).

The Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée Centre is co-founder, with UNS and USTV, of the Paca-Est incubator  (2001). This incubator supports projects to create companies which use the results of public research in the Alpes Maritimes and Vardépartements. This support structure has enabled the creation of more than 100 companies and more than 500 direct jobs (ETP), with two thirds of activities in the Alpes Maritimes and a third in the Var (with just under half in the digital sector).

In addition to the existing programmes which will be provided for the French Tech Côte d’Azur project, the Institute would like to implement a ‘platform’,an area dedicated to driving forward the development of prototypes for transfer purposes and the creation of companies, using responsive methods and adopting a "lean startup" mind-set. The target objective is to facilitate the use and adoption of the Institute’s technologies and to develop a culture that is both technical- and business-through-experimentation-oriented, as is the case for the “code sprint” hackothon and other weekend startups. In addition to support from software development/design engineers and transfer professionals, this area could include the provision of digital platforms, such as the immersion area or the calculation clusters and a show room.

French Tech Festival from 4 to 27 June 2014

Within the framework of the French Tech Festival, two communication operations were set up by the French Tech Côte d’Azur:

- A General Public communication operation in the Sophia Antipolis games

- A partnership with Innovative City, which will bring together players from the public and private sectors in France and abroad, to promote companies, using smart and sustainable regions.

Keywords: Innovation French Tech Campus SophiaTech Digital companies