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Identify, assess and support high-potential projects: the PSL Innovation Fund
To support and strengthen technology transfer and start-up creation, PSL partnered with Elaia to launch the PSL Innovation Fund, a seed fund dedicated to the PSL businesses. One year after its implementation, the fund raised €65 million and made 6 promising investments. Anne-Sophie Carrese and Franck Lescure, partners at Elaia, explain operation of the fund and the methods of collaboration with PSL researchers and project leaders.
PSL: The PSL Innovation Fund is dedicated to start-ups made at PSL. What makes them special and how do you build bridges with PSL researchers and project leaders?
The diversity of the subjects studied at PSL is obvious: from life sciences to microfluidics and robotics.
Franck Lescure: The PSL Innovation Fund is deeply rooted in PSL institutions, which represent 20,000 students, 180 laboratories and some of the best researchers in the world. The diversity of the subjects studied at PSL is obvious: from life sciences to microfluidics and robotics. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that many startups can emerge from such a dynamic and skilled pool, or become strongly associated with it after creation. The teams at PSL Innovation & Entrepreneurship department enable us to build an essential link with researchers willing to start a business. Our first contact must be supported by an objective assessment because we are also here to give feedback to investors and make them understand what the expectations are from venture capital investors.
PSL: PSL has more than 180 laboratories, covering almost all fields of knowledge; how are the business projects detected and selected before they get support by the PSL Innovation Fund?
The Elaia team has implemented an extensive sourcing strategy to understand and detect the future startups in which we hope to invest.
Anne-Sophie Carrese: The variety and quantity of PSL laboratories reflects the richness of French research. The Elaia team has implemented an extensive sourcing strategy to understand and detect the future startups in which we hope to invest.
The selection of projects is based on our long experience in this field: more than 70 years of cumulative investment. A steady background that enables us to have an expert eye.
At Elaia, all the projects in which we invest are reviewed by an investment committee before the entire Elaia team - currently composed of 20 people.
PSL: Tell us about your team; who are the main contacts on the Elaia side for the PSL Innovation Fund? How can researchers or PSL project leaders meet them?
The Elaia team is built on a variety of backgrounds: ⅓ scientists, ⅓ entrepreneurs and ⅓ financial profiles.
Franck Lescure: The team working on the PSL Innovation Fund is led by Anne-Sophie Carrese and it includes Cédric Favier (Investment Director), Sofia Dahoune (Investment Manager) and Haya Hannah (Partner).
Anne-Sophie Carrese: Franck Lescure has been involved since the beginning in the creation of the PSL Innovation Fund, particularly on life sciences, and he has joined us to build an Elaia life sciences team. Recently, the team has been strengthened with two Venture Partners: Sacha Loiseau and Frédéric Hammel. Both of them are still heavily involved in their entrepreneurial activities, and the life sciences team is set to expand further in the coming months.
As a whole, the Elaia team is built on very varied backgrounds and experiences (⅓ of scientists, ⅓ of entrepreneurs and ⅓ of financial profiles) that enable us to better understand researchers and project leaders. The team works to identify, sponsor and support any deep tech business project. The best way to contact us is to come and meet us at events and/or write to us directly on our website. Researchers and project leaders also contact us through PSL Valorisation Service and other technology transfer structures, or through one of the incubators in our scope, with which we are in permanent contact.