Don’t tell my mum I’m an entrepreneur; she thinks I’m a researcher in a lab
Creating a startup to generate value from research work is an option that is attracting more and more young researchers. This trend is confirmed by Linksium’s experience. Overview
Creating a startup to generate value from research work is an option that is attracting more and more young researchers[i].
This trend is confirmed by Linksium’s experience: over the past 5 years, we have helped 94 PhDs to build a professional project from research results. Here is an overview of their motivations.
Starting a business to supply sustainable, inclusive solutions
A study conducted in March 2020 by PhD Talents revealed that 57% of young researchers consider entrepreneurialism as a way to have a real impact on society by responding to societal and environmental challenges.
“A startup like Rosi Solar, from the SIMAP laboratory (Grenoble INP, CNRS, UGA), which produces very high added value materials by recycling waste from the photovoltaic industry, makes a real contribution to the circular economy. More and more startups are innovating in response to societal and environmental challenges. We are light years away from gadget technologies,” explained Carole Silvy, director of the Maturation division at Linksium.
Adela Barbulescu offers another example in a different field: training. She created Emoface in January 2020 based on the results of her thesis and post-doc research in the Gipsa Lab, LJK laboratories (UGA/Grenoble INP/CNRS) and with the Imagine Inria team. Her algorithms to model detailed facial expressions animate avatars to help young people with autism spectrum disorders to recognise and express emotions.
Sharing research with your neighbours
Far from the glamour of Silicon Valley, entrepreneur researchers tend to prefer to create their businesses in their original ecosystems.
Magia Diagnostics is one such example: in three years, Paul Kaufman, a PhD who founded his business in Grenoble after an initial experience in the USA, has created fourteen jobs, three of which are PhD positions.
Working locally does not exclude international development, which is an additional opportunity to promote the entrepreneur’s own scientific expertise and that of their laboratories. The Entroview startup project, coordinated by Sohaib El Outmani, is another example. Sohaib has an international profile, having completed a thesis under a partnership between Singapore and Grenoble; he chose the support of Linksium to generate value from the results of his research work at GipasLab (Grenoble INP, CNRS, UGA) on battery entropy and face the challenges of international business from a base in the Alps.
A new relationship with the world of work
Creating a business is a constructive way of reinventing a career. Starting a business means you can create an activity that corresponds to your own values, materialises your vision and allows you to exercise your own style of management
Look at the startup HYMAG’IN and its director Camille Crouzet, who nurtured his project from his technological university through to his thesis. He has developed his own, highly collaborative vision of entrepreneurship, which he can apply in his own startup.
A new perspective of industry
Scientific startups also revolutionise technological approaches. Being more ecological, optimising the exploitation of resources and minimising their environmental footprint, they are a source of inspiration for industry. Their agility affords them a unique position with respect to the solutions of the future, without the weight of a long history and practices inherited from an industrial context that has become obsolete.
In the health sector, the startup Aiova tackles the mechanisms of infectiology with an original immunity approach developed in the PAVAL laboratory (UGA-INRAE). Within a few years, this new generation of vaccines is expected to boost our capacity to fight pandemics.
Young PhDs are more tempted after being informed
The PhD Talents study reveals that young researchers are mostly motivated to start businesses by the entrepreneurial challenge and the freedom of action. Only 6.7% mention financial profit.
However, this alternative career clearly lacks visibility because 74% of these researchers believe that it is difficult to finance a startup in France. This trend is reversed once they become aware of the support schemes that exist for entrepreneurs. Having received this information, 44% see creating a startup as an opportunity for a professional project.
This represents a challenge in terms of information and awareness for ecosystems with an abundance of young researchers, like the Grenoble-Alps region: the more “PhD friendly” business creation[ii] information circulates in laboratories, the more young researchers interested in such opportunities will be able to flourish in an entrepreneurial project.
[i] Watch the video Jeune docteur, je crée mon job ! :
[ii] Website link « phd friendly »