Since 2014, Tec21 finances internship grants to help researchers from Tec21 start new industrial collaborations or take the first step into the valorisation of their research results. With hindsight, the outcome appears very positive.
This initiative was launched to serve as a springboard to further actions towards innovation funding agencies or industries. Our first analysis showed that quite often, technology transfer projects originating from research laboratories were insufficiently mature to access to substantial support from innovation funding agencies, due to a lack of background results to validate the technological concept. In parallel, starting a new research collaboration with an industrial partner on a new problem appeared difficult even when the technical and scientific discussions open interesting perspectives, because here again, the lack of common results on the topic often hampers the motivation of both parties to get involved in a long term collaboration. The idea of our call for internship projects was to give an impulse to try and unlock these situations and encourage further actions.
A significant leverage effect
More than 40 internship projects were financed so far corresponding to 240 months of intern students (typically 6 months internships), and the PIs of the projects have recently reported a significant outcome in terms of complementary funding obtained in the wake of these internships since the call was launched.
It is interesting to notice that almost 100 % of the financial support obtained further to proof of concept internships came from public sources (French or foreign governments PhD grants, Linksium support for maturation, and local or regional grants), when R&D internships have given almost 60% of private funding (industrial PhD grants and financial support to research). In both cases, the result can be considered very positive: among the 40 projects that were funded, more than 55% have given measurable outcome and significant continuation, with in particular 16 projects having led to further developments through PhDs, among which 6 of them were supported by industries, 7 projects have joined Linksium to pursue their technological maturation, and we can report 6 patent applications and 5 start-up companies created or in incubation so far.
The call for R&D and Proof of concept proposals is open on a ongoing basis to all partner laboratories of Tec21, but the current period is the most suitable for recruiting intern students.