The three-question interview with Damien Cohen, Director, Easytech Program


   –  Can you just remind us how the Easytech process works at IRT Nanoelec?

Easytech is the only program of its kind in France. It helps SMBs from all industries integrate electronics and embedded software into their products and services.

We offer three types of support:

  • Creativity sessions to help businesses come up with ideas for new products and ways to diversify and regain competitive advantage.
  • Audits to assess the project prior to engaging in development work in order to maximize the chances of success.
  • R&D and, specifically, a prototyping/demonstrator system service provided by CEA staff or Grenoble Institute of Technology engineering students. Technologies developed at the labs (or other know-how) is used to complete proof-of-concept testing in the particular environment of the business using the service.

Participating companies may be eligible for financial support (between 20% and 50% of the cost) for these services, as well as individual assistance. We manage the projects from beginning to end and can bring in outside experts as needed to help the participating company manage its innovation project.

We also run twice-monthly consulting sessions where businesses can come and get advice on their projects.

   –   What has the program achieved so far?

Since we started Easytech, we have signed more than 165 contracts with businesses for the three types of services I mentioned earlier (creativity sessions, audit, and R&D) and dozens of new products have been released on the market. More importantly, these contracts represent more than €10 million in R&D spending and €4 million in grants from the French and local governments to help small- to mid-sized business regain competitive advantage.

Companies in 32 districts across France have received services from the Easytech program.

  – How will you continue to reach out to businesses outside of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region?

Right now we are mainly working with two Easytech program partners, CEA Tech, which has regional offices across France, and Jessica-Cap’Tronic, which has staff engineers across France.

Expanding our geographical footprint is the first step toward getting technologies developed by IRT Nanoelec and its partners out to businesses across France. We will also need to communicate more broadly to reach a wider audience of businesses outside of our home region.