Call for Companies and Campus projects

Montpellier's PUI has considerable potential to help reduce the region's economic contrast by stimulating the creation of start-ups, fostering innovation in SMEs and improving its attractiveness to outside companies.

With the aim ofencouraging partnership research and developing technology transfer, the "Companies and Campus" call for projects is one of the PUI's major initiatives.

Since 2018 with the ISITE Program of Excellence (PEI), 9 sessions of the "Companies and Campus" call for projects have already supported 39 winning projects and awarded over €1,700,000 in funding.

Following a positive evaluation by the Comité des investissements Stratégiques et Structurants de l'Université de Montpellier (COMIS), the "Companies and Campus" call for projects has been relaunched in order to pursue its activities.

Objectives

  • Encouraging private partner staff to join research units

And/or

  • Encouraging laboratory staff to work in partner companies.

This call for projects is an opportunity to increase permeability between the public and private sectors.

It aims to facilitate the establishment of new collaborations between a research unit and a private partner, in one of the following cases:

  • includingon-campus reception of company staff or business start-upproject leaders , and/or ;
  • welcoming laboratory personnel to the company.

In order to strengthen these medium- and long-term reception facilities, a budget financed by the PEI and PUI has been earmarked to remove any obstacles to this type of project (staff reinforcement, equipment requirements, purchase of consumables, etc.).

By encouraging mobility, this initiative helps to improve understanding and understanding of innovation skills in research units and among private-sector partners.

Target audience

This program is aimed at research units of IEP partners and departments of the FHU, CHU of Montpellier, Nîmes or the Montpellier Cancer Institute.

The project must therefore be carried out by 1 of the 16 PEI partners, in collaboration with a private partner (an existing company or a project to set up a new business).

List of 16 PEI partners: Université de Montpellier, BRGM (Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières); CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives); CHU et FHU de Montpellier(Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montpellier); CHU et FHU de NIMES(Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nîmes); CIHEAM-IAMM (Centre International de Hautes Études Agronomiques Méditerranéennes); CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement); CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique); ENSCM (École nationale supérieure de chimie de Montpellier); ICM (Institut du Cancer de Montpellier); IFREMER (Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer); INRAE (Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement); INRIA (Institut national de recherche en sciences et technologies du numérique); INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale); Institut Agro de Montpellier; IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement).

Allocated resources

The 2024 budget for this "Companies and Campus" program is at least €420,000.

Thegrant will be awarded to the research unit and will be between €10,000 (excl. VAT) and €50,000 (excl. VAT) for a maximum of 2 years.

Conditions of eligibility

Two main conditions must be met:

1) The existence of a new research collaboration: the research unit must provide evidence of a new research collaboration contract involving the sharing of intellectual property between the research unit's supervisory bodies and the private partner; services are excluded. Research contracts already signed no later than two months before the project submission date are eligible, provided that the research unit and the private partner 4 agree the terms and conditions relating to Companies and Campus in an amendment to the contract. At the time of submission of the "Companies and Campus" application, the research collaboration contract or its amendment must have been validated by the partnership department of the PEI member unit, which will enter into the contract with the company or project sponsor.

2) A commitment to host on campus a staff member of the private partner, or a company project leader, and/ora commitment to host on the private partner's premises a staff member of the research unit for a minimum continuous or fractional period of six months. In the case of CIFRE theses, the doctoral student will be considered as an employee of the private partner hosted on campus.

Process

  1. The research unit and its private partner agree on a scientific program of collaborative research. This program must include a clearly identified "Companies and Campus" funding option, to be offered in addition to the basic program;
  2.  The research unit identifies an IAP partner institution, which will manage the research collaboration contract. No later than one week before the submission date, the unit's scientific manager sends the completed and validated "Companies and Campus" form to the partnership department of this institution for review and approval;
  3. The Companies and Campus files submitted will be sent to the partnership departments involved for review;
  4. A panel of scientific advisors and development advisors analyze the applications according to the schedule and evaluation procedures below;
  5. The final decision to award funding for the option in the collaborative research project is taken by COM'IN according to the timetable set out in the Timetable section below. In the case of an option financed by the ISITE Excellence Program, the final decision is taken by the COMIS (strategic and structuring investment committee);
  6. The private partner and the IAP institution of the selected project sign the research collaboration contract and send it signed to the Direction de l'innovation et des partenariats (DIPA) of the University of Montpellier at rf.re1713036694illep1713036694tnomu1713036694@supm1713036694acdna1713036694-sein1713036694apmoc1713036694
  7. The University of Montpellier allocates funding to the research unit in the research collaboration contract whose project has been selected.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses are as follows:

  • Expenditure on non-permanent staff hired by the University of Montpellier or, where applicable, by one of the research unit's supervisors, when the University of Montpellier is not the supervisor (e.g. a research engineer hired on a one-year fixed-term contract to go out into the field to collect data);
  • Gratuity for trainees;
  • Purchase of equipment, including parts for prototypes and equipment required for reception (office, computer equipment, etc.) by one of the unit's trustees;
  • Provision of services directly linked to the scientific project or the partner's reception, including the fitting-out of premises required to receive the company's personnel;
  • Operating costs and purchases of consumables for the unit's scientific project ;
  • Mission expenses

Other costs, including permanent staff costs, are not eligible. The financial aid granted is intended exclusively to support the development and implementation of the project within the research unit. Under no circumstances may it be used as indirect funding for the private partner associated with the project.

Evaluation methods

The "Companies and Campus" action manager, together with the development and scientific referents, are responsible for evaluating the proposals and producing a ranking of eligible applications. The action manager will submit the applications to COM'IN for decision.

Only projects financed by the IAP will also be submitted to COMIS for a final decision.

The COM'IN is a body composed of :  

  • Representatives of the PUI's founding establishments ;
  • Representatives of value-added subsidiaries ;
  • Research Center Directors or their representatives ;
  • Invited scientific or technical experts.

Evaluation criteria

Applications are evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Personal contribution to the project (out of 5 pts) ;
  • Scientific interest of the project (out of 5 pts)
  • Financial balance of the project (out of 5 pts)
  • Potential for adding value to the project (out of 5 pts)
  • Bonus criteria: type (start-up or SME) and location of private partner (0 to 2 points)

SCHEDULE

Call for projects: November 2023

Application deadlines

  • Session 1: February 01, 2024 (6pm Paris time) ;
  • Session 2: May 01, 2024 (6pm Paris time) ;
  • Session 3: October 01, 2024 (6pm Paris time).

Announcement of results and availability of funds according to deposit date :

  • Session 1: May 2024;
  • Session 2: July 2024;
  • Session 3: December 2024.

 Availability of funds according to deposit date :

  • Session 1: June 2024;
  • Session 2: September 2024;
  • Session 3: January 2025.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF DEPOSIT

The application form, completed in English or French, must be sent by email in PDF format before the deadline to the following address.

PAYMENT OF FUNDING

Grants will be paid in accordance with the above schedule once the research collaboration contract signed by both parties has been sent to the University of Montpellier's Innovation and Partnerships Department (DIPA).

The collaboration contract or its amendment must mention the commitment to host the research unit and/or private partner, as well as the financial support from the Companies and Campus call for projects.

For research units under the supervision of the University of Montpellier, grants will be paid via the University of Montpellier budget line dedicated to the unit. For research units not supervised by the University of Montpellier, except in exceptional circumstances, doctoral students will be hired by the University of Montpellier and made available to the research unit via a hosting agreement. A repayment agreement will be drawn up to transfer the balance of the financial aid granted.

FAQ

  • Is it necessary to respond to the Call for Projects before or after signing the collaboration contract?
    The signature of the collaboration contract is not required in the application file for the Call for Projects. It is therefore possible to respond before or after signature, as long as the project is a new one. In addition, an amendment to an existing collaboration is possible if it provides for a new research program with the associated budget.
    However, if the project is approved, the signed collaboration contract or amendment will be requested by the Direction de l'innovation et des partenariats (DIPA) of the University of Montpellier before the grant can be awarded.
  • Who applies and who prepares the application? The unit or the company?
    It's the scientific leader who puts together the project file, with the support of the partnership & commercialization department of the research unit's supervisory body. (For example, in a collaboration with the LIRMM laboratory, the unit's researcher will put together the application with the support of a CNRS or UM Partnership & Commercialization Department (SPV).
  • Who gets the funding? The company or the research unit?
    It is the research unit's supervisory body that obtains the funding for the collaborative project. Although it is ultimately the company that benefits (the grant reduces the costs incurred by the company for the additional part of the project funded by Companies and Campus), for regulatory reasons, this funding cannot be paid directly to the company.
  • Is the company still the "employer" when it comes to hosting company staff on campus? What is the duration of the stay and how many staff members can be on campus?
    Yes, the company remains the employer of the employee hosted on campus. The minimum duration is 6 months during the entire period of collaboration. The company can choose to involve several of its employees in the campus project (for example, some companies have made three employees available for 12 months each).
  • Will the funding be enough to pay the salaries of company staff for the duration of their presence on campus?
    No, as the company remains the employer and manager of the employee's employment contract, the funding does not cover the employee's remuneration.
  • Among the eligible expenses you mention the recruitment of non-permanent staff by the University of Montpellier. What does this involve? What's in it for the company?
    As part of a collaborative research project, a research unit and its partner (the company) may identify the need to recruit non-permanent staff (research engineers, design engineers). For example, the Beauval Zoo, which has committed to welcoming one of its employees to the Campus for a 3-year period, used Companies And Campus funding to recruit a research engineer for one year. In addition to taking advantage of the opportunity to have a skilled person involved in the collaborative project, some companies recruit staff to join them at the end of the fixed-term contract.
  • What is the level of sharing of intellectual property?
    Since this is a research collaboration, there is a sharing of costs and results. In the context of this call for projects, we do not assess the level of sharing. This work is carried out beforehand by the Partnerships and Technology Transfer Department in conjunction with the partner company, when the collaboration contract is drawn up. Companies And Campus funding does not affect the IP sharing previously negotiated as part of the collaboration contract.
  • The company and/or unit has already received Companies And Campus funding. Is it possible to apply again?
    Yes, it is, as long as the project is based on a new research collaboration.
  • Ideally, the project leader would also like to involve a second laboratory. Can the collaboration take place between the 3 parties (company and two research units) or is it preferable to set up two separate collaborative projects?In the latter case, given that the company will be involved in two applications, won't its chances of success be reduced or limited?
    In the application form, it is possible to list several units involved in the same collaborative project. To illustrate, we can cite the winning NEOCEAN project, which collaborated with 4 different PEI units (IES, LMGC, LIRMM, ISEM) on the same project.
  • Is this scheme complementary to the CIFRE thesis? How can the two be articulated?
    Yes, it is possible to respond to the Companies And Campus AAP in addition to the CIFRE thesis. When drawing up the scientific appendix, you should mention the "optional" part of the research program, the funding of which will depend on the allocation of the Companies And Campus envelope. To facilitate the process, the application to the Call for Projects should be made just before the signed collaboration contract for the CIFRE thesis is sent to the ANRT.