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3 questions for Daniel Leca

Daniel Leca is the vice-pres­i­dent of the region­al coun­cil of Hauts-de-France, in charge of High­er edu­ca­tion, Research, Europe and the State-region con­tract plan. 

What assessment would you make for the situation as it stands today?

It is true that the cri­sis has shown how impor­tant it is to inno­vate in order to deal with its eco­nom­ic and social con­se­quences. This is the con­di­tion for invent­ing tomor­row’s eco­nom­ic mod­el. Indeed, the cri­sis has raised a num­ber of ques­tions that we must answer. Inno­va­tion is there­fore the key. We are for­tu­nate to have “nuggets” of inno­va­tion and research in our region, whether in the South of the Oise Depart­ment, where the UTC is an exam­ple, or in the Lille Met­ro­pol­i­tan Area, which hosts numer­ous R&D lab­o­ra­to­ries. We must also rein­force the inter­ac­tions between the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors in order to cre­ate a real emu­la­tion that is essen­tial to the devel­op­ment of the Hauts de-France Region. We can rely on the sec­tors of excel­lence in which we con­tin­ue to invest: pre­ci­sion health, cir­cu­lar econ­o­my and new mate­ri­als, AI (arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence), cre­ative indus­tries, bioe­con­o­my, ener­gy effi­cien­cy and cyber security. 

What actions are you undertaking currently to maintain economic development for the Hauts-de-France Region? 

The Region’s voca­tion is both to pro­tect the region’s eco­nom­ic play­ers in this peri­od of cri­sis, but also to project itself by invest­ing in the sec­tors of the future, and this calls for inno­va­tion. The Hauts-de-France remains an indus­tri­al Region and we intend to remain so, but we also want to move towards an econ­o­my with high added-val­ue. This is why we have decid­ed to dou­ble the bud­get allo­cat­ed to the Indus­try of the Future call for projects. Our aim is obvi­ous­ly to strength­en our Region’s posi­tion. Con­se­quent­ly, we are rely­ing on a very attrac­tive region­al inno­va­tion ecosys­tem that includes sev­en com­pet­i­tive­ness clus­ters, numer­ous inno­va­tion parks, and also very dynam­ic pub­lic and pri­vate research lab­o­ra­to­ries. In this con­text, HDFID’s role in lead­ing and struc­tur­ing region­al inno­va­tion is essen­tial. Fur­ther­more, the Region is the leader in terms of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment. We have cre­at­ed all the nec­es­sary tools to sup­port the Region’s busi­ness­es. We are the nat­ur­al gate­way for com­pa­nies that need sup­port or to pre­pare for the future. A one-stop shop exists at: https://entreprises.hautsdefrance.fr/

As you see it, our future will rely on research and the digital revolution more than ever before — is that correct?

It is clear that the cur­rent peri­od and suc­ces­sive lock­down mea­sures demon­strate clear­ly how essen­tial dig­i­tal process­es are in our lives, both for com­mu­ni­ties and for busi­ness­es. We must there­fore con­tin­ue to invest in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, and this is what the Region is doing. To do so, we need more research than ever before to sup­port dig­i­tal, eco­log­i­cal and social tran­si­tions. It is in this con­text that UTC and its research sci­en­tists have arole to play to make the Hauts-de-France Region the cham­pi­on of innovation. 

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