Every year since 2014, the Lab2Biz brings scientists from Université Paris-Saclay with a business project together with students on the HEC Paris MBA program. They work on a virtual company before presenting it to a panel of investors and experts, making this a unique program for creating competitive deeptech startups.
Combining the best of both worlds, basic research and business, to promote the creation of innovative companies is the challenge set by the Lab2Biz program, in a joint training initiative provided by HEC Paris and Université Paris-Saclay. The challenge has been met, with 30 project leaders (a little more than seven projects each year coming from Université Paris-Saclay) and 105 HEC Paris students have taken part in this venture over the past four years. 10 startups have been created between 2014 and 2016, out of 17 projects.
Lab2Biz is a one-of-a-kind program – neither incubator nor nursery.
The objective is a pedagogical one: the idea is to create a “mock” startup based on a real technology and to learn by doing, so as to be fully operational when a real company is being launched. Lab2Biz is for researchers, professors and PhD students from Université Paris-Saclay and the innovative technologies they are experts in, together with HEC Paris MBA students, active in their entrepreneurship specialization program.
Scientists and their technologies with entrepreneurship potential are identified as part of the l’Université Paris-Saclay Early-stage call for proposals. Lab2biz represents an ideal opportunity for them to assess the socio-economic potential of their technologies and to test the robustness of their business case.
For HEC MBA students, this is a unique opportunity to do some practical work for at least three months on the transfer of research-driven technologies, by working on the creation of a virtual company.
Interactions are all the more productive that innovations arising from the Université Paris-Saclay Early-stage calls for proposals are truly disruptive innovations, which can take a long time to reach the market.
Lab2Biz is currently the only program to expose deeptech projects, based on major scientific and technological developments, to actual business issues.
Learning by doing and lean startups are the order of the day in this program, as they train HEC Paris MBA students on time management, specific to disruptive innovation processes, whilst raising the professors’ and researchers’ awareness of the challenges faced by companies. Acculturation becomes a two-way process.
The success of this joint initiative has prompted Université Paris-Saclay and HEC Paris to continue with this project and to keep its focus on the productive meeting of two worlds, different yet complementary.
The two institutions made their collaboration official by signing a partnership agreement on 28 November 2018. Changes notwithstanding, it confirms the lasting nature of a successful collaboration.
What those involved in Lab2Biz are saying about the experience:
“Men, women, professors, researchers, MBA students – engineers, lawyers, doctors (…) from all over the world – this diversity makes for an incredibly rich program. Together, they are taking up the challenge of a successful transfer from basic research results to creating innovative startups.”
Tania di Gioia, Université Paris-Saclay Director of Innovation and Corporate Relations
“Our international students will be company executives in many countries. The Lab2Biz program represents a unique and outstanding opportunity to show how an innovative company can benefit from key differentiation factors, identify barriers to entry and how to work with the world of research. This specialization is often the highlight of their 16-month HEC Paris MBA, thanks to Lab2Biz. I am very proud of having designed this program with Université Paris-Saclay and its member institutions.”
Michel Safars, HEC Paris MBA Professor
"For scientists bringing their early-stage projects to Lab2Biz, the program offers a unique opportunity to benefit from an outsider’s views on the possibilities of the technology being considered. Early testing against commercial criteria helps to anticipate the questions an investor might ask about the project and to identify any so far undetected blockages. The initial direction taken by a project can influence access to the market for an emerging deeptech and early interaction with the program’s students can direct scientific developments towards addressing financial risks. Comparing different points of view is both positive and productive.”
Martin Rottman, Professor and hospital pracitioner at Université Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines - Université Paris-Saclay, Lab2Biz 2018
“The Lab2Biz program is a win-win project for all those who take part in it. Not only do scientists ensure the viability of their research results, HEC Paris MBA students also put their leadership and entrepreneurship skills to good use in startup simulations that closely mirror real-life situations. Startups before the early-stage will benefit most from this project by developing a business model and intellectual property and funding strategies. More advanced but still early-stage projects will have their business model challenged and validated and will then be given targeted and applicable advice. This Université Paris-Saclay HEC Paris partnership is without a doubt the best environment in which long-lasting synergistic teams can meet the entrepreneurship challenge and become highly successful.”
Jérémie Zarka, MBA HEC Paris student, Lab2Biz 2018