29 : The socio-economic ambitions assigned to the PIAs (2)

29 : The socio-economic ambitions assigned to the PIAs (2)

The Government PIA incentive was a blessing for two of our Region’s research intensive establishments (UTC and UP Jules Verne). But the Regional authorities played their part too”, recalls Nathalie Van Schoor. “As of 2000, our policy to support research enabled regional actors to set up better internal structures and create more efficient networks, as was need for them to develop”. Further to this thrust, a supporting letter was signed by the Region’s President, guaranteeing that project candidates would be ‘accompanied’ by the Region during the PIA calls to tender. By ‘accompanied’, we refer to financial support, manpower resources and aids to purchase new equipment, according to the project needs.

5 specialist areas, 14 projects and 307.54 Meuros

All told, 14 regionally proposed projects were approved (in 25 PIA calls to tender, out of a total of 400 approved nation-wide. This was a remarkable harvest, all the more spectacular given the Picardie Region’s research potential. Indeed, the ministry for Higher Education and Research underscored this in its status report referring to the first two POIA rounds: “Certain Regions, such as Picardie, will benefit from considerable support in terms of means, compared with their rank in scientific production”. The ministry identified 5 specialist areas for Picardie: biology-health, biotechnologies and bio-resources, chemistry, mathematics and mobile robotics.

8 out of the 14 projects approved were purely regional (excluding any supra-regional networks). They called for 81 Meuros investments, on top of which came the Regional credits. As an example, we can cite the financial aid for the building erected to house ‘Figures’ (cf. Interactions #28). “Building work is planned to start early next year”, adds Nathalie Van Schoor. The PIVERT Biogis Centre (cf. Interactions #28) also receives an additional financial support from the Region. “This centre will be the very first building with PIA support to be erected (corner stone laid): we see it as emblematic inasmuch as it structures a new regional specialty sector and the commencement of new relations between academics and industrialists. The PIA scheme therefore accelerates our efforts to do research and development in certain thematic areas, such as bio-sourced chemistry, energy storage, enhanced mobility, etc. What we have is continuity and fulfilment of our regional policy”.

Three locations for a new dynamic thrust

The next step will include the Energy storage hub, a building specially made for the needs of the STORE-EX Laboratory (UPJV) where research work will begin in Autumn 2014. With ‘FIGURES’ the Picardie Region will have three new locations “of scientific excellence, with a new dynamic thrust to bring scientific academics and economic actors closer together. Thanks to the PIA Incentive, we shall be able to accelerate the meeting of laboratories and enterprises”, underscores Nathalie Van Schoor who also cited UTC’s Innovation Centre. SAS PIVERT has, to date, recruited 7 persons, and likewise SAS Improve (a shared institute for vegetable proteins based in in the regional capital, Amiens) yet another ten personnel and which receives 3.7 Meuros from PIA. “This only the beginning and does not include indirect job position created. The sectors will need to restructure themselves and thus attract even more, actors to join in”, says Nathalie Van Schoor.

Our strength lies in working together

And we have left aside the PIA second round for the moment, under preparation and which favours land planning projects. “We are working with UTC and UPJV to present highly structured application files in two specialist areas: plant chemistry (bio-economics and the bio-refinery) and ‘smart’ management of mobility and energy. Our strength lies that dates back for at least 20 years now. UTC and UPJV Laboratories fully appreciate each other’s merits and skills, guaranteeing an integrated answer to the calls to tender. This constitutes a real added value and which will allow us to succeed in the long term

A remarkable harvest