4 questions to Didier Besnard, Executive Director of CEA Tech
In 2013, Pierre-Marie Lemer was happy to see CEA Tech move to Nantes. Since then, the two companies have routinely worked together. In late 2015, Lemer Pax and CEA Tech entered into a collaboration agreement based on a disruptive technology to develop new composite materials for radiation protection containing hairy nanoparticles. This is an example of the importance of CEA Tech’s presence in regional branches.
During your visit to Nantes in November 2013, you said “to create, we must be able to meet.” Has CEA Tech’s presence in Nantes met your expectations?
Didier Besnard: We moved to Bouguenais, near Nantes, to be closer to our current and potential partners. This allowed us to meet more than 250 companies in Pays de la Loire and Brittany, representing a tenfold increase in the number of contacts, and we were able to sign a great many more partnership agreements. But in the end, it is up to the manufacturers to say whether they are satisfi ed or not. And thanks to the support of the Pays de la Loire Region, with whom we signed a strategic partnership, we have also been able to begin deploying technical platforms that strengthen our ties with our local partners.
CEA also has offices in Grenoble, which has been a huge success. It has excelled in its role of innovation accelerator for industry in Rhône Alpes. Despite differences in the ecosystems between the two regions, can you clarify the missions of CEA Tech in Pays de la Loire?
Didier Besnard: The mission of CEA Tech is to support companies in their innovation process by providing not just our expertise, not just technical platforms, but also a portfolio of technologies protected by patent families that provide the partner with high added value. CEA Tech develops what we call key enabling technologies that can be applied to any industry and any application, in broad microtechnology fields: nanoelectronics (electronic components with sensors and uses) renewable energy and software controlling complex systems. CEA Tech Pays de la Loire provides this broad technology offering, while of course adapting to the regional industrial environment. The mission of CEA Tech Pays de la Loire is obviously the same as the other CEA Tech facilities in Grenoble, Chambéry and Saclay.
CEA Tech wants to be a driver of research in regions across France. What are your key themes and partners?
Didier Besnard: CEA Tech is committed to serving businesses. Of course, this means that we are constantly developing our technology portfolio. To do this, we works on new scientific c ideas that can ultimately lead to new patents and industrial applications. We partner with other research stakeholders, engineering schools, large organizations such as the CNRS and universities. Being in Pays de la Loire allows us to strengthen our ties with the University of Nantes, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, the universities of Laval and Angers and many others. We are currently working on research relating to MRE (Marine Renewable Energy), and on the interesting applications of gesture recognition, and fi nally on the control of largescale parts for shipbuilding and aerospace.
CEA Tech carries out R&D projects for its industrial partners. Companies fi nance this research phase when it leads to an identified industrial development. Contracts are then signed, as is the case with Lemer Pax. Are you satisfied with this collaboration?
Didier Besnard: CEA Tech is currently conducting some 70 R&D projects with industrial partners in Pays de la Loire. Each project is extremely important in terms of markets, jobs and competitiveness. Lemer Pax has a strong technological base, a strong vision and strong legitimacy on its market. Together, we have built an ambitious R&D program to overcome major technological barriers. It is through co-construction, shared technological expertise and close cooperation that we will be able to achieve such ambitious goals. We are delighted to support Lemer Pax in its desire to innovate and we are learning a great deal about this new field of application. This is an extremely rewarding program for us and our partner Lemer Pax.