research and innovation
Innovative business incubator assists entrepreneurs A pioneering business incubator supports innovation emerging from research and development activities in New Caledonia. The role of the New Caledonian Innovative Business Incubator is to identify projects both within public research and in the world of industry and services in New Caledonia, particularly in the fields covered by the Technopole. It matches potential opportunities from public research, particularly research results ready to be developed economically, with local industries or individual project developers. In the same way, existing businesses are supported in their steps to identify laboratories (local or national) able to collaborate on products or processes. The Incubator is based at the Research Institute for Development (IRD) campus at Anse Vata in Noumea, which concentrates the main scientific partners in New Caledonia in a single place. ‘In addition to support in terms of advice and networks within the scientific community, we can accommodate businesses either on the IRD site or within our technology centres,’
Anse Vata, location for the Incubator
scientific knowledge and tools of the Technopole in order to diversify our economy.’ PromoSud confirms that the Technopole plays a decisive role in testing out new techniques and new technologies. For example, one program to improve the productivity of local prawn farms (see page 22), is of crucial importance for PromoSud subsidiary SOPAC, the company responsible for packing and marketing New Caledonian prawns.
Scientific support In addition to supporting the financial organisations that assist business development, the Technopole also works in partnership with recognised scientific agencies such as the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), the Research Institute for Development (IRD), the New Caledonian Institute of Agronomy and the University of New Caledonia. The Technopole thus has access to a network of scientists and laboratories in the Pacific region and in Europe. Promising partnerships with industrialists are also being facilitated, such as a microalgae production program being developed with the mining company Glencore for the remediation of carbon dioxide emissions, and a project for fish waste recycling in partnership with New Zealand’s United Fisheries (see page 8). 20
says Doriane Sanchez-Le Bris, director of international development and of the Innovation Centre at ADECAL. Projects selected by the Incubator are rigorously analysed, taking into account not only the innovative character of the project, but also the project team, the relevance of its target markets and the intellectual property associated with the project. The Incubator selection committee has final responsibility for accepting incubation projects. ‘We do not validate projects that are only at the ideas stage,’ remarks Christophe Carbou, the Incubator Director. ‘They must be based on a realistic business plan.’ Georges De Noni, Director of the Noumea IRD Centre and Regional Coordinator for the Pacific region, explains: ‘The Incubator will reveal and support scientific projects that are sufficiently original in their design to allow them to develop into business start-up proposals. In principle, the wealth of New Caledonia’s land and marine biodiversity constitutes a fertile breeding ground for the development of local and regional entrepreneurs, particularly in the fields of health and cosmetics.’ The objective of the Incubator is to develop local companies. Nevertheless, it will also be open to foreign entrepreneurs who wish to base their businesses in New Caledonia. Efforts will initially be focused on innovative businesses in the fields considered strategic for New Caledonia, such as the development of marine or land (plant) resources. However, as Doriane Sanchez-Le Bris indicates, prospects for opening up to other sectors exist. She points out that the Incubator should host five to six projects in the first year, some of which will be based on the IRD campus. The Incubator supports businesses or project developers for a period of two years, a period during which their financial requirements must be assessed. The role of the Incubator is also to support businesses in seeking financing during this delicate seeding phase.
'To encourage innovation, and contribute to the diversification and sustainable and smart growth of the New Caledonian economy, close ties with the private sector must be developed.' Partnership with the private sector To encourage innovation, and contribute to the diversification and sustainable and smart growth of the New Caledonian economy, close ties with the private sector must be developed. Research results from the Technopole’s technology centres are being shared with private operators, through committees set up to monitor its programs. In order to develop technical partnerships with external stakeholders, the Technopole is also a member of public–private networks, such as the French competitivity cluster, TRIMATEC. ‘We have already benefited from this partnership for the design phase of our pilot program on microalgae, currently under construction in the North Province,’ remarks Adrien Rivaton, Technopole coordinator and director of the Marine division at ADECAL.