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High-tech projects enter limelight at France’s sixth Innovation Forum


High-tech projects enter limelight at France’s sixth Innovation Forum

France’s procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement, will open on Thursday its annual Innovation Forum, a two-day trade show for small and medium-sized enterprises to present high-tech projects to prime contractors and the armed services.

A model of an electromagnetic cannon from Institut Saint-Louis, a Franco-German research center, will be among the projects presented, a DGA spokesman said. A two-rail electric rail gun would be expected to have a range of 200 kilometers compared to 40 kilometers from a conventional gun.

Some 70 small and medium-sized enterprises, or SME, and laboratories backed by government funding will attend the business-to-business event, with a view to winning contracts and a quickened integration into programs.

The firms and labs receive government backing through the Astrid and Rapid funding programs, a DGA spokesman said. The DGA and National Research Agency granted Astrid a 2017 budget of €8 million (U.S. $9 million) for 28 companies, while Rapid’s €50 million annual budget is backed by DGA and the Economy and Finance Ministry for both military and civilian technology.

Officials of the DGA and Bpifrance, a state-owned bank, will present the newly launched €50 million Definvest equity fund. The fund aims to invest in SMEs working on advanced technology and is intended to keep those French firms safe from foreign investors looking to acquire access to sensitive military information.

Twelve startups will have a chance to pitch their projects in a “speed meeting” to potential industrial partners, according to Valérie Lecasble, the Armed Forces Ministry’s spokeswoman.

Other projects include Lisa HD, a radar telecommunications system, and Douf, an intuitive laser-pointing device, which Naval Group will fit on the French Navy’s Lafayette frigate in a midlife upgrade.

This is the sixth Innovation Forum show, which is held at École Polytechnique, an elite university under the auspices of the Armed Forces Ministry.