Genopole is a starting link in the biotech innovation value chain. Its mission is to detect innovation in its embryonic stage or even spark it into existence. Although necessarily adapted to the 2020 health crisis, Genopole’s assortment of structures and actions remained available to favor the dawn of innovative projects and novel scientific topics in biotech: health, the environment, food & agriculture, bioinformatics the bioeconomy and more. Genopole’s objectives are to attract high-potential projects to the biocluster, be they in the hands of university or PhD students, engineers or researchers, French or foreign; and to optimize their development through human, scientific and technological accompaniment.
Shaker: the all-in-one Science & Business program
The Shaker program is a catalyst for innovative ideas. Its purpose is to identify inventive spirits at the starting line and give them time and means to complete their research and learn entrepreneurship, with, to boot, a teamwork spirit to make it a fun and sharing experience.
The Shaker targets two outcomes: to establish scientifically the viability of the innovation and to train the project holder in business creation.
- Respecting all COVID-19 prevention measures, the freely-available, equipped, shared-use Biotech Lab remained open in 2020. There, the Shaker laureates could continue their experiments, benefitting from a budget for buying consumables or accessing the campuses’ state of the art platforms.
- Collective training in intellectual property, business models, financing, hiring, etc., was given online in 2020, with additional personalized accompaniment provided by Genopole’s project managers.
The endgame is pragmatic: turn researchers into entrepreneurs. Since its creation in late 2017, the Shaker has enabled 36 innovative projects (11 underway currently).
Of the 25 Shaker graduates, 16 (64%) have consolidated as businesses and of those, 11 (69%) have continued with Genopole accompaniment within the Booster program.
Of course, a new project has to be a known project. On 9 January, Genopole and its partners (Bpifrance, Essonne CCI, Peips-University of Evry, Satt Paris Saclay, iPAZ, Pôle emploi, Réseau Entreprendre, etc.) held an open house event, at which five laureates within the sixth Shaker edition had an opportunity to present their projects to an audience of about 100 people.
Later, on 1 October 2020, a 100% online Welcome Session offered a podium to eight laureates of the seventh Shaker edition to make them part of the Genopole community right away.
Call for innovative ideas: Genopole and the CHSF join forces to improve patient care
The purpose of Genopole’s Call for Innovative Ideas is to give the personnel at the South Île-de-France Medical Center the means to innovate within their medical practices. Year 2020 saw the third edition of the call, supported by the Essonne Administrative Department and Grand Paris Sud. The winning candidates received financial assistance, Genopole accompaniment and privileged access to the Genopole ecosystem to test the feasibility of their ideas with the support of a biocluster scientific or technological partner and evolve them into R&D projects. Including this third edition, the Calls for Innovative Ideas have led to 11 projects for clinically useful innovations, six of which are currently taking form.
Gilles Lasserre, Chief Executive of Genopole “The Call for Innovative Ideas is a cornerstone of the partnership we share with the South Île-de-France Medical Center for close to ten years now.”
The project’s topics include, among others, connected patient follow-up tools, automated imaging analyses, telemedicine, therapeutic education, cancer screening and virtual-reality medical training.
ATIGE: BRINGING NEW SCIENTIFIC TEAMS TO LIFE
Two Genopole Thematic Actions Incentive (Atige) grants were distributed in 2020. Thus, Genopole now counts 31 researchers who have created a team and opened new domains of research thanks to the €250,000 threeyear funding provided by the Atige program. The first 2020 Atige went to Marie Dewannieux who joins ART-TG. There, she will advance gene therapy vector technologies by addressing immune factors that currently limit their efficacy. The second 2020 Atige recipient, Olivier Biondi, will join the Exercise Biology for Performance and Health Laboratory (LBEPS) where, in partnership with Genethon, he will explore the effects of adapted physical exercise on calpainopathy with the aim of developing new therapeutic strategies for this frequent limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.
LAUNCH OF THE BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH GRANT
In 2020, Genopole deployed a new program to provide a year of Masters 2 or scientific thesis funding in the setting of medicine or pharmacology. Laureates must present a project that will act as an interface between a biocluster lab and a South Île-de-France Medical Center department. Dr. Dardari, who works at the center’s diabetology department, is the program’s first grant recipient. As part of his third-year PhD work at the University of Évry and under the direction of LBEPS, he will seek to identify causative factors for Charcot neuroarthropathy, a disorder that silently destroys foot bone structure in patients with diabetes.