[File] 21 : The spirit of entrepreneurship at UTC

[File] 21 : The spirit of entrepreneurship at UTC

The first stage comprises modules that initiate the undergraduates to creation and management of innovative companies - these courses are given by Joseph ORLINSKI. "One prerequisite we have here, enabling registration in the courses, is to present a project!"

Under the course code GE15, the students approach the corporate world in terms of company creation and development. Joseph himself graduated from UTC in 1986, became a company director. He therefore is in an excellent position to provide pragmatic lessons.

He has been doing so since 1995, a time when the former President François PECCOUD decided to make valorisation of innovation through corporate creation one of the University's priorities. "The very first thing I ask my students to do is to dream! says Joseph. They must follow these dreams and passions; in a word "think big", before coming back to Earth and becoming pragmatic."

This approach marks the minds of the students, and those who later set up a business often call back - even after a few years have elapsed - to ask for advice or help or to join the UTC Business Club.

"Creating a business enterprise is not just wishful thinking"

"UTC-Compiègne offers two assets, beginning with a training that encourages and enhances students' initiative and the the spirit of enterprise". There are course modules like Project Management (GE37) or Management and Marketing of Innovation (GE39) and the minor option FIRME (Training in Innovation and global enterprise relationships" or gain the speciality "Management of Innovative projects, which is in fcat transverse to all UTC's technical Departments.

"UTC-Compiègne also offers tailor-made assistance for those who have a project. Creating a business enterprise is not just wishful thinking and the young entrepreneurs must not get locked into accounting-financial objectives - they must light fires everywhere. We do a lot of exchange work with the project proponents, future bosses or bosses in position, to help break down the isolation and avoid their losing precious time."

Joseph ORLINSKI himself has many projects to hand: setting up a training course module for 1st year undergraduates, organising open days to have students, entrepreneurs et ali get together and exchange. The first such event was organised with the IAR Invest Club, and will be convened June 6, 2013; it will serve to introduce actors from "green" technology sectors, including 5 business angels. The theme will be "Entreprise- taking reasonable risks - and the risk of being unreasonable".

"The entrepreneurs present will not be invited to hard-sell their products or business" adds Joseph ORLINSKI, "but on the contrary to mobilise the young students and explain why it is necessary to raise our heads in France, in a very low profile economic context".

Gaining a label, a first step towards creation

The second stage of the UTC rocket is the University's Innovation Centre. "For 3 years now", explains Benoît EYNARD, "the Innovation Centre has been initiating competitions for innovative projects and the Centre's Jury awards labels to the most promising received. Labelling a project opens the way for the proponents to mature, to take the new idea to the stage of creating a business operation and place its products on the market-place."

It is the UTC's Directorate for Innovation and Partnerships that assists and oversees the technological, economic and marketing aspects of the project as it progresses. External actors are also brought in as and if they can provide an added value to the project: market analysts, designers, biotechnology experts, etc. These add-ons are financed through a maturation fund with the UTC-Compiègne Foundation and represents an envelope close to 125 000 €/yr. The project competition is open to the undergraduates, to teaching and research staff and even to external actors, if they can bee seen to contribute to the local eco-system we have set up in and around Compiègne, initiated by President STORCK.

Among those projects that have been awarded a label, some have already reached corporate creation level, an example being Closycom (July 2012) or Novitact (cf. intra p.15). Others have registered patent claims, e.g. Tatin. When the building programme is finished, the premises of the UTC Innovation Centre will be a focus point for valorising innovation, with sectors reserved for create activities for prototyping, for meeting rooms, etc; "The Innovation Centre will vitalise a proximity network function dedicated specifically to entrepreneurship", says Benoît EYNARD.

There is only one shadow cast on the scene; the Picardie Incubator is undergoing rehabilitation at the moment, and this has left a temporary void in the normal UTC follow-up operations that run from project stage to the market-place. "A second competition has been launched in parallel, used to select student projects even before they reach possible UTC labelling - this enables projects in their very early stages to obtain some financial support and human assistance where needed over a one-semester period. Students here are brim-full of projects, stresses Vanessa CAIGNAULT, who works at the Directorate for Innovation and Partnerships. Some of the pre-labelled selections we help in this way will definitely, I feel, go forward to full label status."

Third and final stage of the UTC rocket - the SATT unit

The SATTs (acronym in French for Technology Transfer Companies plc) were created by the French Government to accompany those innovative projects that called for high-level support; consequently the SATTs dispose of considerable amounts of human and financial means, explains Benoît EYNARD.

"UTC-Compiègne has entered into an agreement with the University Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie), the CNRS, the national Museum of Natural History, with INSEAD-Fontainebleau and the University of Paris -Pantheon-Assas in what is known as the SATT Lutech. One of the projects awarded a label by the Innovation Centre, the IDCCM is currently being valorised by Lutech. This is an business start-up offspring of UTC's BMBI (bioengineering) Laboratory which has developed an innovative system for cell culture protocols that can be of interest to the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and/or chemical sectors at large. This ISCCM project needed 300 000 € to move on to the next stage and the Lutech SATT saw fit to help out and finance this", recalls Benoît EYNARD.

"Among our coming events, do not miss out on the "Forum Entreprise" specially aimed at SMEs and innovative companies, organised by the UTC Directorate for Innovation and Partnerships; this will be held May 2, 2013. "There is by the way another "Forum Entreprise" organised at and by UTC but we saw that the SMEs found it hard to have their say faced with the large multinational groups," adds Benoît. "What we have decided now is to hold a special SME Day, once a year, organised along the same lines"

The spirit of entrepreneurship at UTC