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OLISE in shared mode

At the initiative of OPTITEC, the competitiveness cluster which brings together players in the photonics and imaging sector in the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions, a consortium has been set up comprising industrial firms, the LNE (French national metrology and testing laboratory), Exavision and Bertin Technologies, along with institutional players, OPTITEC and the Nimes local authority. It has a two-fold goal; firstly, to jointly finance the purchase of an OLISE and secondly, to share its use among the various companies, schools and laboratories in the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions.


A look back at an original industrial and financial set-up, enabling micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with limited financial and human resources, to gain access to a high-performance test tool, with two OPTITEC representatives, Emilie Séveno-Carpentier, project officer for the Languedoc-Roussillon region and Jérôme Lopez, head of R&D projects and core projects.

 

OLISE testing a FLIR E/O payload

OLISE testing a FLIR E/O payload on an hexapod


SPHEREA
Could you present OPTITEC to us please?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
OPTITEC is a competitiveness cluster created in 2005 to bring together the photonics and imaging sectors in the Languedoc-Roussillon and PACA regions. OPTITEC currently has 200 members, including 130 companies, primarily micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, plus a few large groups such as Thales Alenia Space and Horiba Medical. The cluster’s role is to develop a favourable growth ecosystem for its members, in particular for the companies. The cluster helps its members with their R&D work, with organisation of their participation in shows and fairs and with their growth and development strategy.

Jérôme LOPEZ
OPTITEC has the role of coordinating the ecosystem by getting industry and laboratories to work together on collaborative projects. The ecosystem also includes our financial backers, such as the Nimes local authority.

SPHEREA
How did the subject of OLISE come up within OPTITEC?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
One of the fundamental principles behind OPTITEC is the deployment of shared platforms. In 2013, we jointly identified the desire on the part of the Nimes local authority to support investment dedicated to optics-photonics for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and the desire on the part of a few companies to gain access to a shared platform of this type in Nimes. Exavision had also expressed a very precise need, that is to test the cameras and optronic equipment they produce. The LNE also expressed an interest at a very early stage.


OLISE opposite an Exavision camera

OLISE opposite an EXAVISION camera


SPHEREA
How did you come to realise that there was a real need for an optronic tester such as OLISE on the local industrial scene?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
Well, we had an SME and a laboratory who were already interested. We also knew that within the ecosystem, other SMEs could also be interested. We therefore asked the Perrier-Léonard agency to run a market survey jointly funded by the members of the consortium and SPHEREA. This survey confirmed the interest of about ten companies for an OLISE tester to be operated by the LNE, which would bring to bear its high-level expertise in metrology and testing.

SPHEREA
So how did you get the idea for the financial and industrial set-up which makes up the OLISE operating consortium?

Jérôme LOPEZ
When you look at the existing shared platforms which are successful, there is always a combination of several factors: a geographical factor, a time factor and a quality aspect. In the case of the OLISE platform, these three factors are also present. For the geographical aspect, the project was built for players around Nimes. For the time aspect, the Nimes local authority was able to provide financial support through a subsidy for the year 2014. The project therefore had to take place within this time window. The quality aspect comes from the LNE, whose expertise fully justifies setting up a metrology platform around a tester such as OLISE. This shared platform is a fine example of the combination of these three factors and we are already thinking about repeating this model. We therefore asked the Perrier-Léonard agency to run a market survey jointly funded by the members of the consortium and SPHEREA. This survey confirmed the interest of about ten companies for an OLISE tester to be operated by the LNE, which would bring to bear its high-level expertise in metrology and testing.

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
The shared services aspect was suggested by Exavision very early on in the process and adopted by the OPTITEC cluster, thus enabling a range of SMEs to benefit from a testing tool such as OLISE, which would be too expensive for them to acquire on their own.


A shared investment by industrial and institutional players

A shared investment by industrial and institutional players


Jérôme LOPEZ
Exavision got the ball rolling and OPTITEC then enabled expansion to take place to include other industrial partners and potential users.

SPHEREA
What role did OPTITEC play in setting up the consortium?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
OPTITEC played its role by coordinating all those involved. Right from the outset, we were at the helm, coordinating the exchanges between the various parties involved in the consortium.

Jérôme LOPEZ
I have a slightly different perspective, because I only arrived once the negotiations were already well under way. What is remarkable about this set-up, is that the cluster is involved financially. Today there are only two types of situation, either the platform is directly and fully managed by the cluster, such as the PEMOA shared adaptive optical equipment platform, or the cluster simply gives its seal of approval to the platform. With the OLISE platform, we have created an intermediate situation which will be extremely interesting. Naturally, we carried out work to coordinate and set up the project, fully justifying the public funding we received, but we also ensured that the cluster invested financially in areas where financial participation is not, strictly speaking, one of the conventional roles of a cluster. We see this as being an investment in the future. We are currently looking for alternative business models and, even if it is interesting to combine players such as Exavision, the LNE, Bertin Technologies and the Nimes local authority, to enable the project to take place, our actions must eventually generate projects. For the cluster, new members joining the shared platform would generate revenue, for the LNE, the clusters must bring in business. In doing this, we would be fully in line with our goal of coordinating an ecosystem designed to promote growth.


“The survey confirmed the interest of about ten companies for an OLISE tester to be operated by the LNE, which would bring to bear its high-level expertise in metrology and testing.”


SPHEREA
What is the current scope of the consortium?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
In its current form, the consortium comprises an SME, Exavision, a medium-sized company, Bertin Technologies, a laboratory, the LNE, an institutional player, the Nimes local authority, and the OPTITEC competitiveness cluster. We are, in fact, fairly representative of the ecosystem.

Jérôme LOPEZ
Yes, this is a perfect example of a groundbreaking project established in a region with different types of members.

SPHEREA
What are the consortium’s expansion goals?

Emilie SEVENO-CARPENTIER
In its current form, the consortium does not need to be expanded and the first round table has been completed. The aim will, in fact, be to enter the platform operation and marketing phase as rapidly as possible. For this to work, the bench must be used, we have to find customers for the platform and everyone has to benefit. Having said that, if the need to add to the equipment arises and new investment is needed, the consortium will then study whether or not it is opportune to welcome a new member.


OLISE consortium organization

 

OLISE is operated by the LNE and made available to the optronic industrial community in the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions.
Exavision and Bertin Technologies, who are members of the consortium, enjoy priority access.
OPTITEC acts as the coordinator of the local industrial community by controlling access to the OLISE platform shared by industry, laboratories and universities in the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions.

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On 2nd February 2017, SPHEREA acquired Noise XT, specialist in high spectral purity hyper frequency and radio signal synthesis and generation.
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