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i-Lab competition, inspiring young people to become entrepreneurs

Information updated on 14/12/20

On October 29, Montpellier Métropole congratulated winners of the highly selective i-Lab innovation competition, and shared a moment with company leaders and high school students to transmit a desire for business and innovation.

Journée inédite à Cap Alpha entre des lycéens et les lauréats du concours Ilab

An unprecedented day at Cap Alpha, with high school students and winners of the i-Lab competition

“Working towards a society that is more teaching, more committed, and more united.”

During the day, high school students from two Montpellier establishments – Lycée Jean Monnet and the Montpellier Boarding School of Excellence – had an opportunity to work on imagining three products or services related to the winning startups’ business activities at the Cap Alpha incubator. i-Lab laureates were ACuSurgical, Mycea, and MT-Act. The young companies are involved with the health, agriculture, pharmaceutical technology, and surgical robotics sectors. At the end of the day, after being coached by the winners and other startups, the high school students pitched their projects inspired by three of the winners’ innovations.

“This original event was an opportunity to support the three winners and also enable these young people to meet inspiring business leaders and learn from their success. This moment together also shows that Montpellier Métropole’s entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem creates ties, seeking to lay the foundation for a new type of society that is more teaching, more committed, and more united,” highlights Hind Emad, Vice President in charge of Economic Development and Digital Technologies.

Michaël Delafosse, Mayor of Montpellier and President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, was at the event alongside Hind Emad and Roger-Yannick Chartier, Deputy Mayor of Montpellier, to congratulate the winners of the highly selective i-Lab innovation competition and share a moment with company leaders and high school students to transmit a desire for business and innovation.

“My sincere congratulations to the I-Lab 2020 competition winners. Young people full of ideas and enthusiasm, with desire and daring, possess so many of the qualities needed at this time,” highlights Michaël Delafosse.

Other Montpellier BIC startups participated in the event led by Tous Entreprenants: Virtualis, Revinax, and Agoragom, winner of the Pépite 2020 award for rising stars. Thanks to Pierre Alzingre, president of Tous Entreprenants, for this successful and motivating event!

Focus on the i-Lab competition and its 3 Montpellier winners

The i-Lab competition’s mission is to detect company creation projects involving innovative technologies and provide support for the most promising ones, offering both financial aid and adapted assistance. With a majority of its focus this year in the fields of health and digital technologies (80%), i-Lab has over the years established its determining role in helping DeepTech startups get off the ground, while more broadly confirming its major contribution to the French innovation system.

Of the 424 startups selected nationwide (in France) for this 22nd edition of the i-Lab competition, only 73 ended up being chosen by the Ministry, with 4 from the Occitanie region and 3 that had been assisted by Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole BIC, and two national Grand Prizes out of a total of ten.
  • GRAND PRIZE * Be-SAFE (Biocontrol and Environmental Solutions for Agriculture based on Fungal Extracts), presented by Dominique Barry-Etienne from Mycea, a Montpellier startup specialized in fungi: natural solutions based on fungal extracts to fight against crop diseases. Mycea offers new solutions for bio-industries to help promote agro-ecological transition. The company creates solutions that offer an alternative to conventional pesticides by leveraging the biochemical properties of fungi and their under-explored bioactivity potential.
  • * GRAND PRIZE * ACuSurgical presented by Christoph Spuhler: a robot for the vitreo retinal surgery of tomorrow. Founded in 2020, ACuSurgical is a startup whose goal is to revolutionize vitreo retinal surgery. Launched thanks to seed funding by SATT AxLR, ACuSurgical designs and manufactures an innovative robotic device that improves safety and accuracy for this very delicate type of surgery, enabling doctors to operate on patients earlier and more safely. The company’s robot also paves the way for future surgery that is impossible to perform by human hand.
  • Mt-act, presented by Siem Van Der Laan: a neuroprotective drug for treating glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the main causes of irreversible blindness, affecting 164 million people globally. Treatments to avoid losing vision cannot be used on patients with high tension glaucoma (HTG). For the 49 million patients affected by normal tension glaucoma (NTG), there is no fully curative treatment and eyesight loss is inevitable. Leveraging a major discovery in the field, Mt-act is developing a new drug candidate, which they intend to carry all the way to Phase 1 clinical trials and subsequently be able to provide the world’s first effective NTG treatment.

Montpellier BIC assistance

Montpellier BIC’s assistance was also rewarded by the success of its startups. The complementarity of assistance shared by Montpellier BIC and SATT AxLR, supported by synergy in the territorial ecosystem, was particularly apparent, with the national jury awarding two of the ten Grand Prizes to particularly remarkable projects focusing on one of today’s major societal challenges.

Montpellier BIC operates as part of the local Department of Economic Development, Employment, and Inclusion. Since it was founded in 1987, Montpellier BIC has assisted 757 companies, which have created over 5,409 direct jobs. The startup survival rate is a record-breaking 91.4% after three years (compared to 72% nationally), and 83% after five years (compared to 60% nationally).
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