Portrait - Marc Chevalier, Head of Bioentrepreneurship

Marc Chevalier's career has been guided by two common threads since his thesis in neuroscience: business development and support for project leaders, and professional support for students and young researchers. This innovation and entrepreneurship enthusiast, a networker, with roots in both associations and business, joined Imagine, a Carnot labelled Institute, in March 2021 as Head of Bioentrepreneurship in the Innovation and Technology Transfer department. His objectives: to raise awareness among researchers about the creation of start-ups and to support them in their projects.

Published on 06.05.2021

Innovation

Your career has always been dedicated to coaching, whether it be students or entrepreneurs?

Throughout my career, I have evolved in the academic and business worlds. In short, I have been involved for more than twenty years in the professional accompaniment of students and in the accompaniment of business creation and development projects.

While preparing my thesis in Bordeaux, I immediately became involved in associative activities related to the professional future of young researchers. This associative involvement marked a turning point in my career, which was then guided by the objective of facilitating relations between companies and students. I created a regional interdisciplinary association of doctoral students, sponsorship operations for students by companies, a national university network for doctoral careers integrated into the national network of doctoral colleges. At Institut Pasteur, I was in charge of welcoming students and post-doctoral fellows and helping them develop their careers.

At the same time, I have worked a lot in the field of entrepreneurship and support to project leaders, whether through the creation of a service company or economic development missions. At Pasteur, I set up bridges with companies and contributed to the structuring of the company creation process and the first stages of support for teams carrying out start-up projects.

How do you support teams who have a business development project at Imagine?

The main challenges, in my opinion, are first of all to make research teams aware of entrepreneurship. At the same time, we need to increase the density of start-up projects and work on anchoring Imagine in the innovation and start-up ecosystem, both nationally and internationally, with incubators, accelerators, investors and all the players in the innovation field.  

Marc Chevalier , Head of Bioentrepreneurship at Institut Imagine

The development of entrepreneurship at Imagine involves two programs.

The Bioentrepreneurs Launchpad is a training program, currently open to X-HEC and Université de Paris students and free auditors. For three months, they work full-time on an innovation project in close collaboration with scientific teams. They interact with the ecosystem through conferences and coaching sessions. Six months later, at the Demoday, they present the progress of their project. This program will be developed and the support for project leaders will be intensified, from the birth to the creation of the project.

The Springboard is the financial and expertise accelerator created by Imagine dedicated to rare diseases. Teams with a project to create a start-up or conducting research that could eventually be valorized through the creation of a start-up are free to apply. We help them structure their project, and then a scientific and investment committee evaluates their application. The support we offer concerns the stages upstream of the creation of a start-up with the aim of de-risking the project, reassuring investors and increasing the share of innovation, on all aspects of project structuring (market, financing, regulations, etc.). 

Are you still involved in the professional support of young researchers?

Even though this is no longer my core mission at Imagine, I am still interested with the professional development of PhDs and young researchers. I still mentor young people, and set up some initiatives on a more personal basis.

For example, I am involved in a group of doctoral students who are working on the development of information content related to technology transfer, business creation, and professional development in innovation ecosystems.