Nucleate France UniCA strengthens the ties between research, industry, and entrepreneurship in life sciences.

Nucleate France UNICA

The opening of a Nucleate branch in Nice is an incredible opportunity for our territory.

This international program, initiated by students from Harvard Medical School and present in a dozen countries, is opening a branch in France, under the direction of Sophie Demolombe, Research Director at CNRS and co-director of the University Graduate School of LIFE & HEALTH Sciences, thanks to the support of Université Côte d’Azur.

Its aim is to forge links between the academic and economic worlds on the Côte d’Azur and to promote the creation of start-ups in life sciences and ecotechnologies.

In our interview, Nicolas Roby (on the left in the photo) and Niels Fjerdingstad (on the right in the photo), Directors of the Partnership Pole of Nucleate France UniCA, share their vision of the azurean branch within this international program.

The goal is to facilitate the transition of PhD students to industry through educational programs and a startup acceleration program, the Activator program, in order to significantly increase their employability.

What is the genesis of Nucleate France UniCA?

The international Nucleate program has its roots in the biotechnology clubs of Harvard University in the United States, where the original idea was to create a platform to encourage interaction between the academic and industrial worlds, specifically in the fields of life and health sciences.

The concept quickly proved to be a success, which encouraged its expansion across the United States and subsequently to Europe and Asia, thus reaching a wider academic and professional audience.

The arrival of Nucleate in France, and more specifically on the Côte d’Azur, was the result of a series of interactions and mutual recognition of shared ambitions between the Nucleate association and Université Côte d’Azur.

The first approach was initiated by the parent organization, eager to expand its network and impact in Europe. Université Côte d’Azur’s interest in the program was confirmed during a preliminary meeting, attended by Mr. Jeanick Brisswalter, President of Université Cote d’Azur, where Nucleate’s values and objectives resonated with the university’s strategic plan, which notably aims to enhance scientific innovation and improve the employability of its young researchers.

This meeting led to more in-depth discussions, culminating in a two-year (renewable) collaboration agreement that perfectly aligns with Nucleate’s international development objectives and the university’s ambitions in terms of innovation and interaction with businesses.

Our branch was made possible thanks to the financial support of IDEX/UniCA and its Director, Sylvain Antoniotti.

What are your specificities and your impact?

Nucleate France UniCA’s main mission is to build bridges between the academic world, business, and entrepreneurship, particularly in the fields of biotechnology, ecotechnology, and medtech.

Our goal is to make PhD students and other post-university students aware of career opportunities in the private sector, beyond academic research alone.

This approach is implemented through two main programs: the educational programs and the Activator program.

The first component, our educational programs, consists of a series of seminars and workshops led by professionals from the field of life sciences research who have subsequently pursued careers in various sectors. These events are designed to expose students to potential careers outside of academia and to provide them with practical knowledge and strategic advice directly applicable to their future careers. These free sessions cover a wide range of topics, such as the skills required to succeed in the private sector, current industry trends, and offer networking opportunities with leaders and innovators in the field, who in turn are well-positioned to identify and recruit potential talent.

The second component, our Activator program, is a startup accelerator. It is an intensive four-month program during which we support student entrepreneurs in the development of their entrepreneurial project. This program provides personalized mentoring based on the technology, resources, and privileged access to an extensive professional network. Participants are connected with mentors, investors, and potential partners, helping them transform their innovative ideas into viable businesses.

Our approach helps to reinforce the local innovation ecosystem by creating a dynamic community where collaboration between the academic and business worlds is encouraged.

What are the advantages of being present in the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis?

The Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis is a unique ecosystem of its kind, offering numerous advantages for an organization such as Nucleate France UniCA.

The territory is not only renowned for its academic excellence but also for its industrial dynamism, particularly in the sectors of biotechnology, ecotechnology, and medical technology.

Université Côte d’Azur is a leading academic pillar that contributes to a rich and stimulating environment for our activities. Université Côte d’Azur, labeled IDEX, is recognized for its cutting-edge research and its commitment to innovation and the employability of PhD students, perfectly aligning its objectives with those of Nucleate.

Moreover, the Côte d’Azur benefits from a solid infrastructure to support innovation, with the presence of numerous incubators and business support programs. This infrastructure greatly facilitates the development of start-ups and the commercialization of new technologies, offering fertile ground for our educational programs and our startup acceleration program, Activator.

The Côte d’Azur branch of the Nucleate program will promote its actions to the Doctoral Schools of Université Côte d’Azur, the laboratories attached to the EUR LIFE, the actors of the ecosystem of research valorization such as the SATT Sud-Est, EuroBiomed, the incubator Provence Côte d’Azur, Bpifrance, the UCA foundation, the seed funds and the companies.

The Côte d’Azur attracts not only academic talent but also professionals from around the world, thanks to its exceptional living environment and its strategic position in Europe. This international attractiveness is crucial for building a strong and diverse network, enabling fruitful exchanges and the expansion of our professional network.

Finally, the Côte d’Azur is historically a center of excellence in key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and veterinary medicine, with a well-established industrial ecosystem that offers abundant opportunities for partnerships and industrial collaborations. The recent successes of several local biotechs illustrate the potential of the ecosystem to support and propel cutting-edge innovations.

Thus, being based in the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis and the Côte d’Azur allows us to leverage these distinctive assets to achieve our objectives of academic-industry synergies, while contributing to the enrichment of the local ecosystem through our commitment to innovation and entrepreneurial development.

What are your development projects?

First, we are planning the official launch of our Activator 2024-2025 program during a major event scheduled for May 28, 2024, in Nice. All students, businesses, and start-ups from the biotech, medtech, and ecotech sectors are invited to join us on this occasion.

Tech sourcing will begin in September 2024, with the program set to run from January to June 2025.

This program represents a cornerstone of our initiative, as it aims to transform students’ innovative ideas into viable businesses.

This launch will be accompanied by an awareness and registration campaign aimed not only at students but also at industrial players in the biotechnology, ecotechnology, and medtech sectors.

The objective is to create a dynamic and interconnected innovation ecosystem that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and technology between the university and the professional world.

Furthermore, in parallel with the Activator program, we will continue to enrich our educational and seminar offerings. These educational programs are essential for broadening students’ career prospects and equipping them for the challenges of the economic world.

We also aim to strengthen our network with businesses and institutions that share our vision of innovation By connecting our students and start-ups with industry leaders and investors, we facilitate exchanges that can lead to disruptive innovations and significant advancements in various fields.

Finally, we are considering exploring new opportunities for collaboration with other universities and academic institutions across Europe and the world. The Nucleate network is international, and this represents an additional opportunity to open up to the international scene from Nice.

Website link:

Contacts: LinkedIn Nucleate France UniCA

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