Changing the world by changing the way we look at innovation

The part­ner­ship Foun­da­tion and Found­ing mem­bers Group Saint Gob­ain and Sopra Ste­ria are work­ing hand in hand with UTC to sup­port sci­en­tif­ic excel­lence, in par­tic­u­lar via the «Social Aware­ness and Inno­va­tion» Chair. The aim is twofold: to broad­en social aware­ness with­in UTC, but also to have an impact on tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion with­in the Region’s industries.

In the French aca­d­e­m­ic land­scape, UTC occu­pies a prime posi­tion in terms of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. UTC’s slo­gan is to «lend­ing mean­ing to inno­va­tion», invites reflec­tion on the con­cep­tion, design and future of tech­nol­o­gy. The ques­tion of the social com­po­si­tion of the groups involved in these inno­va­tions all too often remains a blind spot in inno­va­tion-ori­ent­ed stud­ies in France. The «Social Aware­ness and Inno­va­tion» Chair pro­pos­es to focus par­tic­u­lar­ly on this issue and to exper­i­ment with con­crete actions. In sci­en­tif­ic terms, the Chair head­ed by Michaël Vicente, lec­tur­er in soci­ol­o­gy at UTC, with oth­er mem­bers of UTC’s Costech lab­o­ra­to­ry. Alexan­dre Lon­ga, a research engi­neer, has been recruit­ed to coor­di­nate the Chair’s work. «We have ongo­ing activ­i­ties with plat­forms such as UTC’s dig­i­tal hall and the fab lab. The play­ers also include insti­tu­tions. We are already work­ing with around ten sec­ondary schools, and oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tions are being devel­oped through­out the Hauts-de-France Region and in the Seine-et- Marne Depart­ment. The finan­cial back­ers, viz, the Hauts-de-France Region, the bank Crédit Agri­cole Brie Picardie Foun­da­tion and the UTC Foun­da­tion for Inno­va­tion, are also involved in these ini­tia­tives,» explains Michaël Vicente. The aim of this Chair is to devel­op a series of researchac­tion projects on the role of social aware­ness in inno­va­tion con­texts. The aim is to high­light and describe the mech­a­nisms that link social aware­ness and inno­va­tion, in their his­tor­i­cal, sta­tis­ti­cal and exper­i­men­tal dimen­sions. The aim is to devel­op this type of research and make it vis­i­ble internationally.

An impact on the social diversity of students

This Chair will be based on three pil­lars: aware­ness-rais­ing, sup­port and action research. This type of project will require the intro­duc­tion of aware­ness-rais­ing mea­sures in sec­ondary schools, which could be coor­di­nat­ed with the work car­ried out by the «cordées de la réus­site». This could be done by mobil­is­ing stu­dents or for­mer stu­dents to work in local estab­lish­ments. The five-year objec­tive is to have a real impact on the social diver­si­ty of stu­dents. «The sup­port dimen­sion will involve either the intro­duc­tion of spe­cif­ic mod­ules or a rein­forced tutor­ing pro­gramme and will be aimed at more spe­cif­ic and vol­un­tary mon­i­tor­ing of the new cohorts inte­grat­ed: mon­i­tor­ing of the fun­da­men­tals (Math­e­mat­ics, Physics), but also mas­tery of the French lan­guage and writ­ing. All of these actions will be in sup­port of and in line with exist­ing actions with­in UTC. From a ped­a­gog­i­cal point of view, the aim is to put tech­nol­o­gy at the heart of the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem,» he adds.

Thinking about the plurality of possibilities in innovation processes

Here, inno­va­tion is seen as a fac­tor in the eco­nom­ic and social devel­op­ment of a giv­en Region. Some econ­o­mists esti­mate that an increase of between 1 and 1.55% of GDP in annu­al growth could be achieved if inno­va­tion pro­fes­sions were made more wide­ly acces­si­ble (Jar­avel, 2023). «The aim of this Chair is to under­stand the obsta­cles to this democ­ra­ti­sa­tion and to pro­pose ways of encour­ag­ing it. The aim of the project is to devel­op work­shops to encour­age peo­ple to become engi­neers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds, rur­al areas or women. Our ambi­tion is first and fore­most to under­stand. It’s about under­stand­ing why dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple don’t apply, or don’t apply very much, for admis­sion to our schools and to UTC in par­tic­u­lar. The longer-term ambi­tion is to ensure that there is greater social diver­si­ty at UTC, even though we know that this is a longterm task. That’s one of the rea­sons why we’re involved from sec­ondary school onwards. After all, a voca­tion and ambi­tion for edu­ca­tion are forged quite ear­ly on in life.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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