Innovation Competition of MESR and BPI France: 11 I-PhD and I-Lab Winners Including 3 Grand Prizes

  • Innovation
  • Research
Published on October 5, 2023 Updated on October 5, 2023

on the September 22, 2023


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The award ceremony for the winners of the State Innovation Competition 2022-2023, organized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) and BPI France, was held on July 4th in Paris. Five I-PhD and seven I-Lab winners, including three grand prizes, have brought honor and recognition to the public research of the Azur region and the Université Côte d’Azur.

Aligned with the acceleration of innovation within the framework of Plan France 2030, the State prioritizes transforming France into a leader in the creation and development of innovative and sovereign businesses. These entities are expected to facilitate ecological, energy, digital, and food transitions, and decarbonize our economy and lifestyles.

To promote the emergence of French champions internationally, the State’s Innovation Competitions, i-PhD, i-Lab, and i-Nov have, since 1999, been honoring researchers and entrepreneurs, providing support and financial backing to their projects. In this context, the Government honored the Azur winners of the 2023 edition on Tuesday, July 4th in Paris: five I-PhD laureates and seven I-Lab - including three grand prizes - illuminate Azur public research and the Université Côte d’Azur site.

Five Winners of the I-PhD Section, Including Two Grand Prizes

The i-PhD section targets young researchers and aims to valorize their work to create or co-create groundbreaking technological startups, associated with technology transfer structures and public research laboratories. The winners receive a support program to accelerate their projects. Five awardees from the Azur site were honored in this category, including two Grand Prizes:
  • Marielle Père, from the Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (Biocore project-team, Centre Inria d’Université Côte d’Azur, and IPMC laboratory, CNRS/Université Côte d'Azur), received a Grand Prize for her CellEmax project focused on cancer treatment. The technology she’s developing combines live cell imaging with machine learning to identify molecular targets, crucial for designing rational therapeutic combinations ensuring the success of developing immunotherapies.
  • Antonia Machlouzarides-Shalit received a Grand Prize for her NeuroPin project (Epione team, Centre Inria d'Université Côte d'Azur), which is developing AI-based software for neuroradiology. Her software assists radiologists in quickly detecting and measuring brain regions and anomalies in a more reliable and reproducible manner, applicable for one or multiple MRI brain images over a lifetime.
Three other iPhD winning projects include:
  • Darewin Evolution by Charlotte Gaviard (Biocore project-team, Centre Inria d'Université Côte d'Azur and Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche) delves into blue biotechnologies for a sustainable economy through an innovative approach of dynamic Darwinian selection to naturally enhance microalgae productivity for producing molecules of interest.
  • Dimicare Biotech by Juan Antonio Garcia-Sanchez (C3M laboratory, Université Côte d'Azur/Inserm) is working on new classes of compounds to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • SequoIA Analytics by Daniel Enrique Mata Flores (Geoazur laboratory, Université Côte d’Azur/CNRS/Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur/IRD and Lagrange laboratory, Université Côte d’Azur/Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur/CNRS) employs AI for traffic monitoring, using data from optical fibers deployed in urban and suburban environments to provide real-time traffic and road integrity indicators.

Six I-Lab Winners Including One Grand Prize

The i-Lab section enhances public research results through the creation of innovative technology companies. It finances the best R&D projects for the finalization of an innovative product, process, or technological service with significant financial assistance and tailored support.
  • Melpomeni Dimopoulou won a Grand Prize for her Pearcode project (from the i3S laboratory, CNRS/Université Côte d’Azur), centered on massive digital data storage on synthetic DNA. Contrary to existing media that need replacement every five years to ensure information longevity, DNA molecules offer long-term archival reliability with limitless storage capacity.
  • Christophe Vasseur for his Lubi project (originating from the ISA laboratory, INRAE/CNRS/Université Côte d'Aur). After launching the startup Inalve, he created AgroINNOV, which uses the natural diversity of beneficial insects to avoid synthetic pesticides and control the emergence of pests in agricultural crops.
  • Anna Kamenskaya, for Kekkan Biologics (originating from the IRCAN laboratory, Inserm/CNRS/Université Côte d’Azur), utilizes translational research to develop innovative products for the treatment of severe and disabling diseases.
  • Lucie Monticelli, for her NEMITES project (originating from the ISA laboratory, Inrae/CNRS/Université Côte d’Azur) which is developing personalized biocontrol solutions to protect against crop pests and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Manuel Pariente, for his Pulse Audition project (originating from the Inria Startup Studio of the Centre Inria of Université Côte d’Azur) is developing hearing glasses to allow people with hearing impairments to better understand speech in noise.
  • Thierry Virolle, for his Virtu Therapeutix project (originating from the IBV laboratory, Université Côte d’Azur/CNRS/Inserm) is based on the development of a new therapeutic approach against glioblastoma (brain cancer), targeting the properties of glioma cancer stem cells.

Congratulations to all the winners who showcase the recent strides in innovation within the territory!