The University of Adelaide has announced it is set to run an incubator aimed at supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the town of Châlons-en-Champagne, France, over the next five years.
To be known as ThincLab Châlons, the incubator will be based on the University’s ThincLab business incubator model and will be run by its Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC), looking to help local entrepreneurs and students accelerate their business ideas. The first program will start this September.
Professor Pascale Quester of the University of Adelaide said that the collaboration with Châlons is an opportunity to develop strong, innovative links between South Australia and France.
“Our work in Châlons-en-Champagne will provide the basis for University of Adelaide alumni, research students and staff to commercialise their research innovations in France. Students from the University of Adelaide as well as from French universities will also be able to undertake internships in entrepreneurial start-up businesses, where they can experience as well as learn about entrepreneurship in action,” she said.
Benoist Apparu, mayor of Châlons-en-Champagne, said that the partnership will enable the town to “put forward our territory with daring, as [Georges] Danton said in 1792.”
“We have many assets to sell, and the French way of life is important to our city. We understand we must innovate and collaborate, and the University of Adelaide will provide the impetus for that,” he said.
With a population of approximately 50,000, Châlons-en-Champagne is the capital of both the department of Marne and the region of Champagne-Ardenne.
The launch of the incubator comes at a time when the city of about 50,000 people in the famous Champagne wine region is in need of an economic boost, with the loss of 2,000 jobs caused by the closure of French army barracks in the town last year creating the need for economic development.
ThincLab will work in conjunction with the University of Adelaide’s eChallenge, a pitching initiative that will act as a transition program for teams looking to enter ThincLab.
The University is holding the finals of its first Australian eChallenge France competition in Châlons-en-Champagne today, where 11 student teams are competing for a share of $97,000.
The strengthening of business links between France and Australia comes as Australian startups are being urged to look to Europe, with the Government announcing Berlin as the location of one of its five global landing pads for entrepreneurs.
Making the announcement, Minister for Trade and Investment Steven Ciobo said the Berlin pad will help Australian businesses develop stronger ties with Europe’s largest economy as Australia looks to begin negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union.
France itself can also be a good base for Australian startups, with Queensland entrepreneur David Ryan, whose startup Corilla took part in the NUMA Sprint Accelerator in Paris, saying his team was “blown away” by France and the opportunities there, with Paris becoming a key gateway to other European economies.
Image: Chalons-en-Champagne. Source: Wikipedia.