SATTs, for a boost of innovation

Everything started from a simple fact : France excels in research but performs less adequately in terms of innovation. The process comes to a halt somewhere between the adjustment of the prototype in a research laboratory and the point where it is marketed by a company following technology transfer. To counteract this situation, the Investments for the Future program that was launched in 2010 proposed creating the SATTs. 4 years later, there are now 14 SATTs, and Irstea is a shareholder and/or partner for 3 of these. Let's take a closer look at their potential and how they operate.

Main advantages

SATTs have 2 significant advantages :

  • Single point of contact : SATTs benefit from the promotional capacities of their shareholders, providing companies with a single point of contact to facilitate communication and procedure. 

  • Guaranteed funding : SATTs are Simplified joint stock companies (SAS). They benefit from 1 million euros in initial state funding and are guaranteed 10 years funding. They therefore have the necessary human and financial resources. 

According to Véronique Vissac-Charles, director of Development and Transfer at Irstea, research institutes and universities have been promoting their work long before the creation of SATTs, but their capacities and competencies are limited by resources that are either limited or spread too thin. 

Furthermore, research organisations participating in SATTs as shareholders do not claim intellectual property rights on the patents, but reap the benefits if the technology transfer is successful.

From invention to innovation

 From the development of the technology in a research laboratory, to the resulting patent, and the possible uses for the invention, research institutes are faced with development costs that are difficult to support, explains Vissac-Charles. The role of SATTs is to help transform an invention into an innovation by taking on the development costs and providing services.

In practice, research organisations propose inventions or licenses to the SATT, who decides whether or not to take on the project, apply for a patent and support the development costs. 

  • If the SATT decides to invest in the project, it begins the project development process (market studies, looking for partners, value assessment etc.)

  • If the SATT decides not to invest in the project, the research institute's development department can still decide to invest in the project, in which case the SATT can help by providing access to services necessary for technology development and transfer.  

Earlier in the process, the SATT can aid development departments by helping to detect inventions. In certain fields, declaring inventions is not a well established process, so it is necessary to go to the researchers to detect inventions and inform them of development methods. Those are two actions that research organisations can implement regularly using the services of the SATT that they are members of.   

We must wait several more years before we can evaluate the efficiency of these new structures, but the research development process looks promising.

Irstea is involved in 3 SATTs

As a shareholder : 
  • SATT AXLR: based in Languedoc-Roussillon and active since 2013, this SATT consists of 11 founding shareholders (the State, the Caisse des dépôts et consignations, Montpellier 1 University, Montpellier 2 University, Montpellier 3 University, University of Nîmes, University of Perpignan, CNRS, Irstea, IRD, INSERM, National Centre for Higher Education in Agricultural Sciences - Montpellier SupAgro, ENSCM - Montpellier Chemical Engineering School)
  • SATT Grand-centre: This SATT began in 2014 with 5 founding shareholder organisations (the State, the Caisse des dépôts et consignations, PRES (Higher Education and Research Cluster) Clermont University, PRES Centre Val de Loire University, PRES Limousin Poitou Charentes, CNRS, Irstea). 

As a partner: 

  • SATT GIFT (Grenoble Alpes Innovation Fast Track): This SATT based in Grenoble brings together 13 founding organisations and focuses on creating innovative companies. 

 For further information