Meet the Climate-KIC's French node Director

Thanh-Tâm Le, director of Climate-KIC’s centre in France since January 2013, talks about the unique mix of academic, industrial and public Climate-KIC partners

Joining as the new director of the Climate-KIC France came at a most exciting time. The first few years were a lot of hard work for the core team, and one can tell, from their discreet ‘war veteran’ touch, the happy few who were involved from the beginning.

A former US President famously said that there was no French word for entrepreneur. However, we have started to work with incubators to host and support the best start-up ideas of our students and researchers.

Climate change markets largely remain to be identified and developed, and business mentoring is crucial to turn the relevant technologies into sustainable businesses. Our entrepreneurial activities shall grow, from the start, in close interaction with the innovation and education activities.

Over 30 partners

The KIC’s remain complex organisations, but the momentum is finally there. Recently meeting EU Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and French Research Minister Geneviève Fioraso, our French partners made it strikingly clear that the experiment was worthwhile, that times of crisis demanded even more innovation, and support for KIC’s should be increased.

Climate-KIC France recently passed the 30 partner mark. Several times per year, we share the latest news and views on how best to contribute to the European effort, collectively and individually. In addition, we have meetings at least every two months with the five core partners, who have their say in the major strategic orientations taken by Climate-KIC.

A unique mix

Many students long, as citizens, to fight the effects of climate change, but fail to convert their longing into a concrete career path. And yet, our world definitely needs top level scientists, engineers and managers who understand climate change processes and the necessity of systemic action for mitigation and adaptation.

With its unique mix of academic, industrial and public partners, Climate-KIC may well be the best community to find and train these key talents.

France has a strong research community in climate science. Lately, the number of French students who want to create their own start-up has been rising dramatically. Every summer, our academic partners host part of the Climate-KIC summer school – ‘the Journey’ – centred on climate and entrepreneurship, as well as other educational activities.

Our students in climate science need to learn about value chains, business plans, economic sustainability. Conversely, business students, who shall work with them in climate-related start-ups, must acquire a basic knowledge and ‘common sense’ in climate science.

We must ensure that their common passion is transformed into real, positive impact on climate change.

Thanh-Tâm Le, Director, Climate-KIC France