Building a place to grow a culture of innovation integrating new work methods, exchanges and resources is the ambition behind the development of InnovSpace. The aim is to create a framework that is conducive to innovation by providing physical spaces for a community of users and activities. The product of the support received from the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation, this innovation area has benefited from a fundraising operation carried out over one full year to finance the facilities and all the equipment.
Innovation for all
InnovSpace is designed to benefit ISAE-SUPAERO students, alumni and research professors, but also seeks to work with other academic establishments, companies and large groups that would like to work with students on projects. InnovSpace also includes dedicated spaces.
The ground floor houses a prototyping area providing users, including the Institute’s staff, with machines dedicated to mechanics, electronics and 3D printing. Two Fab Managers can give technical advice, organize training and coordinate activities at the site, for 200 registered students and over 300 initiatives developed.
Furthermore, the Digital Lab area includes a digital laboratory with augmented virtual reality and a video laboratory with a self-service video studio, as well as a concurrent engineering center with an augmented videoconference room with simultaneous displays on some ten screens. A space for events, co-working, a showroom and a creativity room round out the facility, not to mention the indispensable hang-out area, the work café. Multiple spaces to bring together all kinds of innovative profiles.
Letting ideas flourish
Upstairs, InnovSpace has an area dedicated to start-ups and student projects that can welcome up to 30 people. Four start-ups occupy this area: Hinfact, which was founded by two former students and proposes a neuroergonomic concept, Dron’Aero and its treatment drones for agriculture developed by an alumnus, Beyond Aerospace which is working on designing a nanosatellite launcher, and last but not least, our alumnus Amaury Ciurana, Class of 2020, who is working on a therapeutic exoskeleton project.
“We offer upstream support during the pre-incubation phase. We welcome developers of projects in the idea stage, help them to give structure to their projects and inform them about the existing incubation structures for their subsequent development,” added Dan Nguyen, Operations Manager for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ISAE-SUPAERO.
This project has received support from the Foundation through grants and an award presented to the most promising start-ups. This is the case of Hinfact, which received the Foundation’s first Entrepreneurship Prize in 2019.
There has been a burst in activity for student projects, with the space now welcoming the I-CARE team developing a robotic arm designed to capture space debris, Solarboost, a shrouded tricycle concept with an electric motor powered by solar panels, Green House on Mars, an automated hydroponic greenhouse to feed future Martian colonies and, lastly, Diamant BP4, a project developed by alumni consisting in reproducing a model of the historic French rocket. Ideas and spin-offs in the pre-incubation phase are coming to life with interdisciplinary teams.
“The aim is to create a real community of users. Indeed, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, you need openness, exchanges, and a cross-disciplinary approach. That is why large corporations are also developing this kind of center in order to tear down internal barriers and forge relations in an ecosystem of innovation,” said Dan Nguyen, manager of InnovSpace.
Innovation – the third pillar at the Institute
With this new dedicated location, innovation – the Institute’s third pillar – takes on its full dimension alongside training and research.
“The aviation and space sectors have innovation in their blood. That is why our Institute has always prepared its students to innovate,” said President Olivier Lesbre.
Innovation has a rightful place in all of the Institute’s activities through a comprehensive training, incentive and facilitation facility. During their Masters and Engineering programs, all students are given increased awareness and receive training in innovation, and those who so desire can make it a major part of their educational career.
“Beyond the support provided to projects put forward by students or spin-offs from our laboratories, the Institute contributes to innovation in start-ups and companies by giving them access to the innovative capacities of our students, new graduates and laboratories in a very flexible manner. The combination of these possibilities is what enables a start-up to maintain its innovative dynamic while keeping costs under control,” the President concluded.
These innovations have enabled our students recently to create several start-ups or spin-offs from our research laboratories such as U-Space (CubeSats), Speeryt (real-time transmission protocols), or Hinfact (man-cockpit interface). This agility can also be seen in collaboration with the start-ups that come looking for our students’ skills, such as Delair with which the Institute has created a joint laboratory that is now expanding in the field of long-endurance drones.