The three-question interview with Pierre Benech, President, Grenoble Institute of Technology


  • Grenoble Institute of Technology has been a long-standing partner of IRT Nanoelec’s training and education programs. What is your perspective on the last five years as a partner?

Grenoble Institute of Technology has three missions: to offer degree programs in engineering, to conduct research, and to build relationships with businesses to ensure that we continue to respond even more effectively to their needs. Since the beginning, the Institute has leveraged its strong relationships with businesses to contribute actively to IRT Nanoelec. Our partnership with IRT Nanoelec also supported the creation of a new work-study program in design at Phelma, one of our engineering schools, and enabled us to get involved in CIME Nanotech. Our schools and labs are currently very active participants in the IRT Nanoelec Easytech, education and training, and PULSE programs.

The education and training program, which is jointly run by business school Grenoble Ecole de Management and Grenoble Institute of Technology, has given us valuable insights into the competencies nanoelectronics companies’—from components to applications—are seeking in their future employees. We have responded to these needs by creating specific initial and continuing education programs.

Every year, more than 2,000 students take classes developed in part with IRT Nanoelec. Our graduates’ career placement rates (91% six months after graduation) are excellent, a trend that appears to be here to stay, with great results year after year.

IRT Nanoelec promoted education in nanotechnology at Grenoble Ecole de Management and Grenoble Institute of Technology by developing novel programs (in plastronics, innovation projects, business training, the Analog School continuing education program, international Masters programs, and programs in cybersecurity), bolstering programs combining business and technical curricula, and by creating a strong community of educators and businesses to better meet businesses’ future needs and co-develop new academic programs.

  • Grenoble Institute of Technology is involved in IRT Nanoelec’s technology transfer programs, Easytech and PULSE. What will the next three years bring?

Grenoble Institute of Technology is participating in ambitious research projects on the security of connected objects through the PULSE program. The goal is to develop new security technologies, and several PhD research projects co-supervised by the CEA and Grenoble Institute of Technology are in progress.

And two Grenoble Institute of Technology schools, Esisar and Ensimag, continue to improve their already-renowned knowledge in the field of cybersecurity through the PULSE program. The work they are doing aligns closely with business’ needs. This in turn will help us make sure our graduates have the skills their future employers are seeking.

The Easytech program was set up to help startups and SMBs from across France with their innovation processes and give them access to R&D resources. Grenoble Institute of Technology now has substantial feedback on this program from our schools, labs, and technology platforms. Over the five years of the Easytech program, the Institute has completed 40 projects. For businesses, the projects provide an opportunity to complete proof-of-concept testing and move on to the functional prototype stage when developing new products or improving existing ones.

The Easytech program has been very successful with SMBs. This can be attributed to how well all of the partners have worked together and Minalogic’s highly effective administration of the program. The innovation culture is making its way into the mainstream, and companies count on programs like Easytech to get up to speed and revitalize their engineering departments by getting them to work with Grenoble Institute of Technology graduates. The new generations of engineering graduates will enter a business environment populated by small companies. That’s where innovation will happen and where tomorrow’s jobs will be found. This is yet another way in which IRT Nanoelec and, especially, the Easytech program have had a positive impact. Over the next three years we plan to continue our involvement in Easytech by gaining business’ trust in the product or concept and, therefore, in the safety and security of embedded systems.

  • Grenoble Institute of Technology school Esisar worked with New York University to organize the European edition of Cybersecurity Awareness Week (CSAW) in November of 2017. A Grenoble Institute of Technology team stood out during the Embedded Challenge. What more can you tell us about the event?

Grenoble Institute of Technology hosted more than 80 top-notch cybersecurity students representing 20 nationalities and 10 European universities at CSAW. Nearly 10,000 students from around the globe competed in the qualifying round. More than 200 visitors attended the final round of the competition and the lectures and business forum held in parallel. CSAW also provided an opportunity to associate the IRT Nanoelec name with a major international cybersecurity event for high-school and college students and to promote our Institute internationally. The event was attended by professionals from education and industry (Schneider, Ingenico, Thales, STMicroelectronics), highlighting the Alps as a center for expertise in cybersecurity.