Spotlight on the Lab2Biz Grand Jury, the highlight of the HEC Paris MBA Entrepreneurship Track
Every program or specialization at HEC Paris has its momentum. Since 2014, for the MBA Entrepreneurship Specialization, it is the Grand Jury - the chance for the student participants to showcase the deeptech projects they have been working on in front of high level experts.
Why is the Grand Jury event big among the HEC Paris Entrepreneurship community? It represents the consecration of the Lab2Biz educational initiative, which definitely checks all the boxes when it comes to a real hands-on experience. Here is a bit of context and a focus on the latest Grand Jury, which took place on the December 14th, 2022.
Lab2Biz, the HEC Paris MBA Entrepreneurship Specialization, a real Deeptech startup hands-on experience
Lab2Biz, the word itself says it all. Created in 2014 by HEC Paris and the University of Paris-Saclay, the Lab2Biz initiative aims to create innovative and creative ‘blank’ startups by combining deeptech public research technology and business. The idea behind this is for the MBA students to work on a new technology business plan and for the scientists/inventors to assess the socio-economic potential of their technology, and test the durability of their startup project.
Since its inception, more than 60 projects - carefully hand-picked for their business potential through the Paris-Saclay University’s Prematuration call for projects - have been evaluated thanks to the Lab2Biz. More than just a traditional exercise, students are embarked in a unique real hands-on experience based on real deeptech technologies. Some projects even make it to the real world and are launched by scientists or students, and even both.
This year, 36 MBA students divided into seven teams applied what they have learned during the MBA specialization to deeptech projects during three intense months. To succeed in their mission, students can rely on their team coach and professor’s supervision.
“The objective of the Lab2Biz is to make the students experience what it is like to create a startup from scratch. Even if it is a simulation - the company is not real and can be with or without the students and/or scientists - the work remains the same, and the company is almost ready to go,” explains HEC Paris Professor Michel Safars, the man behind this MBA specialization.
The MBA Entrepreneurship Track Jury, the culmination of the Lab2Biz initiative
The work doesn’t stop there. After three months of hard work testing every single aspect of the venture - namely the scientific proof of concept, both the economic and legal potential of the project, the development strategy if necessary, and even sometimes the proposition of a research/business team as soon as the maturation phase begins - each team pitches their business project in front of their peers and a grand jury made of CEOs, venture capitalists, accelerators, entrepreneurial experts and business professionals.
This school year, the team supporting the Amineo (INRAE/CNRS) project was the most convincing. The promise behind the technology developed by Amineo is huge as it leverages AI-powered protein design technology to tackle soil pollution two times faster and 40% cheaper. Patrick El Hajj, acting CEO of the Amineo winning team declares, “we will be closely following the scientific/experimental results as we thoroughly designed the business model and assessed all the related risks. And if our intuitions were right, we believe this will be a great breakthrough to solve soil pollution and enable a circular economy.”
Michel Safars, who designed and has run the Entrepreneurship specialization since 2004, comments on this year's Grand Jury: “This specialization and its grand jury are an opportunity to learn how to create a deeptech startup with strong technological differentiation. HEC Paris is the business school of the Plateau de Saclay and this partnership is a great opportunity for students from all over the world to learn, understand and practice in relation to this challenge.”
What makes this initiative even more enriching is the commitment of other HEC Paris Professors, scientists and the support of renowned experts. This year, students had the honor to have Pascal Cagni as the Student Sponsor for the 2023 edition! Pascal Cagni - who is the Founder & CEO at C4 Ventures, and Chairman of Business France - is also a Major Donor of the HEC Foundation, Member of the Dean's Circle, and co-founder of the HEC Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab) along with Jean-Luc Allavena & Pascal de Jenlis, Bernard Garrette and Professor Michel Safars.
Diversity and unity, among the key strengths of the specialization
Diversity definitely sets this specialization apart. Just like the other competing teams, the Amineo project team was characterized by very diverse but complementary profiles. The seven members of Amineo come from several countries - France, Peru, India and the USA - and various backgrounds: engineering, product management, business development, risk and marketing.
When we ask Patrick El Hajj, acting CEO of Amineo, what motivated them in this project, both the innovative essence of Amineo and its potential positive impact on the planet seemed to be the trigger. “Creating customized proteins through AI was truly an innovative technology. As a team, we collectively believed that this technical breakthrough has a future and for that, we took on our shoulders the mission of finding a business application in the market that positively serves humanity and makes the world a better place."
A huge thumbs up to the winning team, which collaborated with two coaches, Peter Livaudais and Philippe Boulanger, and three scientists: Juan Cortes from CNRS, Sophie Barbe and Thomas Schiex from INRAE!
The Lab2Biz experience undeniably fulfills its mission as it helps students understand what it takes to launch a business but it also gives them a clearer idea of their next move. Some will set up a startup while others won’t.
No matter what they decide, all the teams who pitched their project succeeded in their mission and positively contributed to this year's Entrepreneurship specialization!