The ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation’s entrepreneurship prize has been awarded to Paul Lascombes, a graduate of ISAE-SUPAERO (S2017) and École Polytechnique (X2013), co-founder and Scientific Director of EXOTRAIL, founded in 2017. Exotrail is a start-up that designs and supplies transport solutions for the space sector. It markets electric propulsion systems to small satellite manufacturers.
For Paul, everything started during his studies at École Polytechnique (X2013) where he carried out a scientific project to develop an instrument to measure the thrust of an electric microthruster. Thanks to this project, which he worked on in 2014/2015, he became interested in space and in the opportunities for marketing this new kind of thruster adapted to nanosatellites. This project planted the seeds for the Exotrail adventure launched in 2015. During his studies, first at École Polytechnique and then at ISAE-SUPAERO (S2017), Paul Lascombes developed his scientific culture and his entrepreneurial culture while starting to work more and more intensely for Exotrail.
In 2017, after his end-of-studies internship at Airbus Defence and Space, he joined Exotrail full time to prepare two projects: setting up the company from a strategic and technical point of view in order to raise the initial funds, but also technical coordination that would enable him to capitalize on the knowledge acquired during development with SATT Paris-Saclay, (Société d’Accélération du Transfert de Technologies (SATT) facilitates and develops the transfer of innovations from public academic research). This was done to launch the technology foundations necessary for the demonstration mission, all with a small team of 6 people.
After raising this initial capital and a substantial increase in the team, Paul’s work turned to three main aspects connected to his title of Scientific Director:
Operational management of the software development team based in Toulouse.
Technical organization of the entire team and coordination of R&D.
His role is to constructively question the technical choices made by the development teams. He ensures the coherency of all the activities and technical interactions for the various development aspects and coordinates R&D actions.
Definition of Exotrail’s long-term strategy. He oversees discussions on the SpaceVan (orbital transport vehicle housing nanosatellites to transport them from their launch orbit to their final operational orbit) and keeps up with launch problems and in-orbit services.
The entrepreneurship prize launched by the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation in 2019 aims at encouraging entrepreneurship; the prize is a way to provide support for start-uppers in their promising, innovative projects, notably in the aviation, space and defense fields.