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A new look at Innovation & development in a time of crisis

Antoine Macret is the Direc­tor of the Hauts-de-France region Inno­va­tion & Devel­op­ment Agency (HDFID) since March 2019. This UTC grad­u­ate reviews for Inter­ac­tions the man­age­ment of an unprece­dent­ed eco­nom­ic cri­sis, offer­ing his views and, above all, relat­ing his actions in the man­age­ment of an unprece­dent­ed eco­nom­ic cri­sis. What role does the Hauts-de France region­al devel­op­ment and inno­va­tion agency play in sup­port­ing com­pa­nies and the Region’s inno­va­tion strategy? 

The Hauts-de-France Region­al Devel­op­ment & Inno­va­tion Agency aims to inter­vene at all points in the chain: help­ing young peo­ple to become entre­pre­neurs, whether it be tra­di­tion­al (Starter pro­gramme for the cre­ation and takeover of busi­ness­es) or inno­v­a­tive (Inno­va­tion Park), to devel­op busi­ness­es through inno­va­tion, but also inter­na­tion­al­ly (Euro­pean pro­grammes and net­works). “Our three mis­sions remain more essen­tial than ever. It is up to us to con­tin­ue to sup­port start-ups and com­pa­nies in their inno­va­tion and indus­tri­al per­for­mance projects. It is up to us to devel­op entre­pre­neur­ship and sup­port the eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment poli­cies of the Hauts-de-France Region,” says Antoine Macret, who at the same time empha­sis­es the impor­tance of the fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Region. “Indeed, through its diver­si­fied skills, our agency pro­vides an oper­a­tional deploy­ment of the strate­gic ori­en­ta­tions (SRESRI, SRDEII, S3…) of the Region­al Coun­cil.” More than a thou­sand com­pa­nies have been vis­it­ed, five hun­dred projects receiv­ing finan­cial sup­port, three hun­dred of which have been financed to the tune of two mil­lion euros via var­i­ous region­al schemes.

The ongoing crisis reshuffles the deck

With this cri­sis con­text, recov­ery is based on dif­fer­ent foun­da­tions. “Entre­pre­neur­ship remains strong. Some even decide to take the plunge. The cri­sis becomes a trig­ger for them. For oth­er busi­ness lead­ers, this is a time to acti­vate dor­mant projects. They have the will to relaunch them­selves through inno­va­tion,” says Direc­tor Macret. The sit­u­a­tion remains very crit­i­cal in the aero­nau­ti­cal sec­tor, which was already under great pres­sure before the pan­dem­ic. A group such as Air­bus, which is always seek­ing bet­ter com­pet­i­tive­ness, relies on numer­ous sub­con­trac­tors, which are them­selves very depen­dent on this high­ly spe­cialised mar­ket. It is not sur­pris­ing that these com­pa­nies are col­laps­ing with this cri­sis. “One solu­tion among oth­ers is the notion of diver­si­fi­ca­tion. You have to learn to bounce back in oth­er sec­tors. The same applies to rail­way com­pa­nies, car com­pa­nies and oth­ers. It’s part of our job to make these com­pa­nies vis­i­ble to the major con­trac­tors via an indus­tri­al mar­ket­place,” says Antoine Macret, whose objec­tive is to have a real impact on our econ­o­my. “Not only to main­tain employ­ment, but to devel­op it. We must rely on all the research and inno­va­tion play­ers in the region and play a uni­fy­ing role.”

A UTC graduate heads the HDFID agency

Antoine Macret grad­u­at­ed from UTC with the Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer (GM) major. He has held posi­tions as indus­tri­al project man­ag­er and design office man­ag­er in sev­er­al large inter­na­tion­al groups (Bosch Brak­ing Sys­tems, Hutchin­son, Faive­ley Trans­port, now Wabtec), before becom­ing the indus­tri­al direc­tor for Indux­i­al, a sub­sidiary of four mechan­i­cal machin­ing com­pa­nies work­ing in the aero­nau­tics field in the Albert-Méaulte region (80). He was also Vice-Pres­i­dent of the aero­nau­ti­cal clus­ter of Hauts-de-France, PHMA — ALTYTUD. Aged 36, he decid­ed to join the HFID Agency as direc­tor, to put his exper­tise at the ser­vice of the Region’s eco­nom­ic development. 

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