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Photonics PhD Days: entrepreneurship at your fingertips!

The 2024 Photonics PhD Days was a resounding success, taking another step towards its ambition of becoming a must-attend event for photonics PhD students.

Organised in Lannion by Photonics Bretagne, Anticipa, ENSSAT and Institut Foton, this 3rd edition extended its duration from 2 to 3 days in response to feedback from the 2nd edition’s satisfaction survey. This year, the international aspect took on a significant dimension with no less than 7 different nationalities represented. Thanks to the European project Photonics4Industry, eligible doctoral students were able to benefit from funding for part of their travel expenses; the rest of the costs (accommodation, local transport and meals) was entirely covered by the event. Optica, also a sponsor, made a generous contribution by donating the prizes awarded to each workshop participant.

An enriching experience for doctoral students

It’s often said that quality is more important than quantity. This year’s event is a perfect example. Following a number of cancellations, this year’s Photonics PhD Days brought together around thirty participants, including 10 PhD students, who could thus each receive more individual attention.

Captivating thesis pitches, talks on the various support and funding programmes available in the region, inspiring success stories, one-to-one meetings with entrepreneurs, and visits to local photonics companies – Oxxius, Lumibird and Photonics Bretagne – made up the 3-day programme.

At the same time, an exciting workshop gave PhD students the opportunity to create fictitious start-ups and pitch their projects to a panel of judges. Each group developed ideas based on one of their thesis topics, integrating market data and profitability prospects. Congratulations to the ‘Soliton’ team who won the challenge!

Overall, the jury was impressed by the commitment and professionalism shown by the doctoral students. The quality of the work and the cohesion of the group were undoubtedly made possible by the exceptional setting overlooking the sea, and the many moments of conviviality punctuated by Breton gastronomy.

In conclusion, Patrice Le Boudec, Chairman of Photonics Bretagne and CEO of IDIL Fibres Optiques, summed up the spirit of entrepreneurship that prevailed at the event: “There’s just one thing to remember: ideas are hard to come by, but if you’ve got one, it’s very easy to set up a business, get support and find funding! So don’t be afraid! Go for it!”