Grenoble Alpes, a unique innovation model
A rich scientific community with a unique innovation model
The “Grenoble model” is marked by the close ties between a diverse collection of stakeholders (private businesses, research centers, academic institutions and local government). Thanks in part to this innovation-focused community, Grenoble earned the title of “5th most inventive city in the world” (Forbes, 2013) and was given second place (behind Barcelona) in the European Commission’s 2014 “iCapital” award, an award that is conferred on the most innovative European cities.
In the past decade, France’s deployment of specialized “centers of excellence” (pôles de compétitivité) confirmed the government’s commitment to collaborative innovation, something that has been an integral part of Grenoble’s DNA for decades. Since the creation of these centers of excellence, they have pushed the boundaries of progress in their respective fields. Grenoble Alpes is home to Minalogic, center of excellence for the micro/nanotechnology and digital sectors, and Tenerrdis, center of excellence for the energy transition. Actors in Grenoble Alpes also work regularly with several other centers in Auvergne Rhone Alpes, including LyonBiopole in the health sector (Lyon), Axelera in the chemistry sector (Lyon), and the newly-created CIMES center for smart manufacturing (Mt Blanc).
If this diverse set of innovation partners has been able to collaborate with each other so efficiently, it is in great part thanks to Grenoble Alpes’ talented workforce – a workforce that is, geographically-speaking, particularly concentrated. So concentrated, in fact, that today there are 25,000 jobs in research within a 20km radius! As the CEO and founder of the energy startup GULPLUG, Xavier Pain, states: “In the space of a single day, we can meet with R&D teams from major research centers – like G2ELab or the CEA – and with Openlab, the quick prototyping department of Schneider Electric. Just a few minutes from each other! The concentration of industry actors in the area is an indisputable advantage.”
It is no accident that big multinationals, like Apple, Huawei, NaverLabs, Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce, and Intel, have made the choice to bring activity to Grenoble Alpes, taking advantage of this unique collaborative and innovative dynamic.
A fertile ground for startups
Within the academic sphere, a large number of new technologies have been developed, leading to the creation of an array of startups in the region. In Grenoble Alpes, entrepreneurs have at their fingertips a network that supports the development of their activity: business incubators, accelerators, investors – and a wealth of industry-related events and networking opportunities throughout the year.
Since 2000, over 500 startups have been launched, raising over €1 billion… As of 2019, the startup workforce is 4,700 people strong. 44% of these startups work with high-intensity technologies and 20% have introduced disruptive technologies. Resolutely international, the dominating technologies developed by these startups can be summed up using the following keywords: apptech, electronics, sensors, semiconductors, healthtech, medtech, AI, datascience, energytech, and materialtech.
An ambitious metropolitan area
Grenoble Alpes has bet on collaborations to drive its economic development, working with businesses of all sizes, research partners and local citizens. Thanks to these partnerships, many large-scale projects, led or supported by local government, have managed to see the light of day:
x MINATEC: internationally-recognized innovation campus for micro and nanotechnologies, that concentrates on rapid technology transfer in microelectronics, health, energy and optics.
x Clinatec: puts patient health at the heart of an innovative and pluridisciplinary project bringing together robotics experts, mathematicians, physicians, electronics experts, computer scientists, biologists, neurologists, surgeons, and caretakers. Clinatec is a technical platform that brings together a consortium of partners in order to give birth to cutting-edge technological devices and a hospital with the most advanced equipment.
x GIANT (Grenoble Innovation for Advanced New Technologies): The “French MIT”, GIANT brings together 8 partners from higher education, research and industry, structured around six sectors: new energy technologies, biotechnologies, micro and nanotechnologies and nanoscience, technology characterization and management.
x Nano2022 : the French part of the European nanoelectronics plan. This R&D program, dedicated to the semiconductor industry and led by STMicroelectronics and Soitec, will receive €800 million of support at the state and local governmental levels over 5 years.
x MIAI Grenoble Alpes (Multidisciplinary Institute Artificial intelligence) : AI consortium with the goal of developing a world-class interdisciplinary network around artificial intelligence. It proposes interesting education modules for students and professionals, supports innovation within large corporations, SMEs and startups, and communicates with citizens about all aspects of artificial intelligence.
Local scientific expertise
Grenoble’s locally-cultivated expertise in a variety of fields led to the emergence of a number of dynamic industries as early as the 20th century. Today, with over 75,000 jobs in the private sector and a wealth of international companies, Grenoble Alpes’ expertise in these domains has attracted talent from around the world. To achieve this, it has relied on a dynamic web of partners, including innovative startups, the Université Grenoble Alpes (ranked among the top 150 universities in the world), as well as countless laboratories and research centers (both fundamental & applied) on the cutting edge of their fields.