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Student-Business Synergy at the Innovation Factory

Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink
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Student-Business Synergy at the Innovation Factory
Campus cluster schools at the Innovation Factory include the Web School Factory, Paris school of Business and the journalism school IICP. // ©  Web School Factory
Since 2013, the Innovation Factory has been bringing students and companies together around a shared interest: the digital revolution. Located in Paris' 13th arrondissement, the center is home to student projects and emerging startups alike.

What does the Innovation Factory produce? The goal of the Paris innovation campus cluster's center is to speed up companies' digital transformation by creating synergy with students. In 2013, cluster founder Anne Lalou recalls, "Business owners were beginning to realize that the impact of digital on their work wouldn't be limited to making a website. They needed a place to meet and engage with the innovation ecosystem." She pitched the Innovation Factory idea before a gathering of over 300 business leaders. "We said if ten were interested, we would go for it."

Ask A Student

The nonprofit now boasts 35 business partners, ranging from Sodexo and venture capital firm Partech Ventures to small startups. AccorHotels' guest technology innovation lab manager Thomas Cressot says, "We come to get a fresh, critical perspective." The chain helped found the factory, serves on its business incubator jury and supplies students with projects. "It's as if we were opening our chakras to millennials to see if our ideas are in line with their way of life."

Something for Everyone

The factory is a win-win situation. Lalou explains, "It has to help our students with their studies and there are no performance obligations." Failure is part of the process. For Cressot, "That is what defines startups. The students aren't here to replace consultants."

Lalou adds, "Many companies also come to recruit students. That's great because we have plenty of them." Campus cluster schools at the Innovation Factory include the Web School Factory, Paris school of Business and the journalism school IICP, all members of the private group Galileo-Studialis.

Innovation Ecosystem

Students from CentraleSupélec's Digital Tech Year (DTY) have also joined the mix, among others. The selective program trains around twenty students a year to join the ranks of an "elite digital squad," says DTY program manager Armelle Hellara. She notes, "At the Innovation Factory, we find things we don't have on our own campus: new ways of learning, collaborative projects and a whole ecosystem that fosters interactions [between students and companies]."


Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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