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Inria & SMEs - Partnership with OSEO

Expanding bandwidth between SMEs and the research world

Last spring, Inria and OSEO teamed up to increase the innovation capacities of SMEs in the digital and software fields. Laure Reinhart, assistant general manager of OSEO, and Bruno Sportisse, director of technology transfer and innovation at Inria, look back on this promising partnership.

Can you remind us of respective activities of Inria and OSEO regarding technology transfers?

Laure Reinhart : At OSEO, a technology transfer is expressed in the form of a concrete link between SMEs and scientific research. This first involves helping SMEs to integrate new technologies into their project or service offerings but also encouraging research so that it integrates their needs and abilities to put this new know-how on the market.
Bruno Sportisse : Technology transfer is also part of the historical missions of Inria. The institute is now expanding this activity to SMEs, particularly with the implementation of Inria Innovation Labs (ex I-Labs), joint laboratories between an SME and an Inria project team. Our partnership with OSEO and the launch of this newsletter on opportunities in the digital industry illustrate the strengthening of the Inria technology transfer policy in this direction. A key point is actively observing the ecosystems of SMEs in order to better understand their expectations.

How does this collaboration reinforce the technology transfers?

L.R .: By sharing our actions and expertise with Inria for three years, we are expanding and optimizing the "knowledge bandwidth" between research and companies. On one side, Inria has in-depth knowledge of research abilities, and on the other side, OSEO is facilitating the access of VSEs and SMEs to systems for funding innovation. We are therefore quite complementary!
B.S .: The terms of the agreement reflect our motivations and are based on three principles: the definition of joint strategic priorities on topics of technology transfer and innovation in the digital industry, the consolidation or creation of a dynamic for projects for technology transfers to SMEs in our fields, in partnership with the competitiveness clusters, and the reinforcement of a logic of long-term monitoring and support of high-potential projects. Such an agreement creates confidence, which is a key factor for boosting technology transfers.

How do you expect to bring together researchers and SMEs?

B.S .: The dialog between the two worlds must be revitalized. For this, we recently co-organized, for example, a meeting – The sustainable digital city – with the competitiveness clusters Systematic, Advancity, and Cap Digital, on the campus of the Saclay platform (Yvelines), in which around fifty SME managers participated and where fifteen Inria technology demonstrators were presented. We are planning several other events of this type starting in the fall to raise the awareness of businesses and describe any possible technology transfer projects. Technology transfer professionals with a strong industrial background are also listening to companies in order to facilitate these connections.

What should SME managers expect from this partnership in the medium term?

L.R. : Their collaborations with research must be facilitated. The agreement positions the two partners as "activity facilitators" between research and business. Beyond bringing them into contact, this means including businesses in the major projects developed in the competitiveness clusters and the existing financing plans.
B.S .: This bridge that we are building between research and SMEs involves constant contact, "the network effect." Alongside OSEO, we are able to offer comprehensive support to our partners, consistent with the coordination of innovation ecosystems by the competitiveness clusters.

Inria & OSEO: a complete program!

Over a period of three years, the partnership between Inria and OSEO appears through an "ICST-SME" program, which particularly focuses on the access of innovative SMEs to supercomputing, the development of mobile applications on smartphones, and the sustainable digital city. A steering committee, made up of representatives of Inria and OSEO, will meet twice per year to define the joint actions and take stock.

Betting on innovative SMEs like HPC Project

Created in December 2007 by Pierre Fiorini in Montpellier, HPC Project is an SME specializing in the design of software for the optimized execution of codes requiring either high computing power or significant memory. Its high-performance computing solutions involve fields as varied as industrial engineering, oil research, biotechnologies, motorization, etc. Supported since its beginning by the Ministry for Higher Education and Research, this young start-up has also received financial assistance from OSEO since 2008 and has enjoyed a technological partnership with Inria, which helped it to develop an Inria Innovation Lab with the Inria teams this year.

Contact: Pierre Fiorini, President & CEO of HPC Project.

Keywords: SME OSEO Partnership