How the Impulse incubator supports researchers in the entrepreneurial world (and wants to increase its resources)

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How the Impulse incubator supports researchers in the entrepreneurial world (and wants to increase its resources)


If the world of entrepreneurship and that of public research have long been contradictory, the state, anxious to support the competitiveness of French companies through innovation, decided, at the end of the 1990s, to simplify exchanges between the two. Thus the Allègre law (or law in favor of innovation and research – 1999) allows researchers to create companies, file patents or enter the capital of a company that promotes the results of public research.

Beyond this legal authorization to undertake, the state is implementing a series of tools aimed at simplifying procedures for researchers; including public support structures, otherwise known as “Allègre law incubators”. The Impulse incubator is one of them.

Accompaniment and priming

Its mission: to support researchers who have created a company based in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hautes-Alpes or Vaucluse. “ It doesn’t matter if their innovation is based on work done by a research organization elsewhere in France », Explains Maxime Defous, director of Impulse.

The support is spread over two years. It is implemented by three business executives (between a team of 5 to 6 permanent employees), who work to help entrepreneurs fill out fundraising or aid paperwork from Bpifrance, to obtain a tax credit research or to offer them engineering legal and economic.

We also have a start-up mechanism from 30,000 to 40,000 euros to finance market studies, regulatory costs, communications, travel … These are repayable advances at risk, that is – let’s say that in case of project failure, proof, yes do not ask for a refund “. A way to limit risk-taking for new entrepreneurs and thus encourage them to start.

Anchored in an ecosystem of complementary actors

For the rest, whether it concerns the management of intellectual property or hosting, the incubator relies on a network of partners including business incubators or the Société d’Acceleration du Transfert Technology (Satt) Southeast. ” In some regions, the Allègre incubator has merged with the Satt or offers accommodation. On our territory, the choice was rather to bet on the complementarity of the ecosystem, through various measures “.

This does not prevent these other facilities from having their say about the incubator. Chaired by the president of the University of Aix-Marseille, Eric Berton, the Impulse incubator is administered by a board of directors and a general assembly composed of the founding members (AMU, University of Avignon), as well as by various research organizations such as the CEA, the CNRS, the Ecole centrale Marseille, or even the Inserm. “ We are in fact the business creation arm for these establishments “.

Furthermore, the selection of projects (about ten per year) is the responsibility of a selection committee in which Satt Sud-Est, public and private financiers, lawyers, INPI and even Bpifrance are represented. “ We choose projects in all themes except multimedia », Area reserved for the Belle de Mai incubator, one of the very few thematic incubators dedicated to innovations deriving from public research.

1,750 direct jobs created

Since the creation of Impulse in 2000, 216 projects have been supported, leading to the creation of 186 companies with a 5-year survival rate of 90%. ” In total, they raised € 357 million and generated the creation of 1,750 direct jobs. “.

Supported companies include Traxens, Volta Medical, Vect-Horus, Graftys and DualSun. ” We have several companies in the digital field, in energy, but in recent years there has been a strong boom in the field of health and e-health. “This trend should be reinforced by the very recent integration of AP-HM as an associate member of Impulse.

To better pursue its missions, the incubator wants to increase the number of its partners. One way to weigh more on the public authorities that finance it. In the same logic, he tries to reinforce his recognition by obtaining labels. “ We are therefore the only incubator to have ISO 9001 certification. “, A standard that establishes various requirements relating to quality management systems, in particular as regards the monitoring of customer satisfaction, in this case of the supported project leaders.

Impulse would also like to be recognized for carrying out a public service mission. ” Among the projects we support, some open up new therapeutic avenues “. Thus serving the general interest.” A label like this could help us raise more funds from our partners. “.

Because this is the main limitation of Impulse: the lack of resources. With an annual budget of 800,000 euros, it would like to obtain more resources to strengthen its awareness-raising actions towards researchers, a public generally still wary of entrepreneurship, or at least not well informed about the existing mechanisms. But also to recruit an additional project manager and allow more discoveries to cross the wall of their laboratory.