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The Innovation Academy

The Innovation Academy:
"Harnessing the talents of doctoral students to develop innovative projects"

The Innovation Academy is organized in Lyon Saint-Étienne, and offers a hands-on training program for doctoral students to discover entrepreneurial culture and show them how to access other support programs if they decide to move forward, and to give them an opportunity to discover entrepreneurship in a unique project-centered, multidisciplinary team experience over a four-month period, while exploring innovative ideas: a product, a new service, a social or environmental innovation project, etc.

The Innovation Academy was developed by the Université de Lyon, in partnership with the PULSALYS Technology Transfer Acceleration Office (SATT), the PEPITE Beelys and the Innovation Factory.

It aims to help doctoral students transform their innovative ideas into projects. All areas of innovation are concerned, be they economic, social, sportive or even cultural.

Download the training program (FR)

Educational and professional objectives

The adopted educational method fosters a cross-curricular understanding of innovative project management, with hands-on training providing operational skills based on real-life situations.

Training objectives:

  1. To work as part of a multidisciplinary team and to collectively develop an innovation project;
  2. To test your skills and desire to innovate, and to experience the first phase of an entrepreneurial adventure;
  3. To put an innovative idea to the test when faced with its economic reality;
  4. To get a feel for the socio-economic sector and build a professional network;
  5. To openly discuss projects and ideas.

And for professional development...

The skills acquired throughout the training program can be put to use:

  • in an n innovation, research and development department;
  • within an innovation support structure;
  • to create a start-up;
  • etc.

Details and information

The training program will take place over a three-month period from February 8 to May 13, 2021 with the final challenge featuring as part of the HUBLO young entrepreneurs' festival.

It is structured around four learning segments, with group evaluation sessions taking place between each segment.

  • An eleven-day training program delivered in French;
  • A program-dedicated project manager;
  • Up to seven multidisciplinary teams;
  • Capacity: 18 to 25 participants;
  • Different instructors from one session to the next;
  • Two seven-hour mentoring sessions are available to each project team, provided by an innovation expert and available throughout the training program: “project management” mentoring and “sector” mentoring;
  • A networking evening, to communicate with others and develop your professional network;
  • An approved training program as part of cross-curricular studies (50 hours)
  • Testimonials from entrepreneurs;
  • Final deliverable: a business plan for the developed team project;
  • A final challenge featured in the HUBLO young entrepreneurs' festival.


A first-year Neuroscience and Cognition PhD student
The Innovation Academy was an immersive, intense experience, where I discovered the world of entrepreneurship. This active training program provides us with the theoretical knowledge needed for marketing innovation and creating start-ups, all while enabling us to meet with the Lyon innovation ecosystem’s key players. The program is fascinating and I encourage all PhD students who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship to take part.

A second-year History PhD student

Being part of a project which is outside my field of research, my comfort zone and my knowledge base has allowed me to prove to myself that I can embark on any new adventure, take on any new project, and go all the way to complete it, despite the obstacles and challenges it may present.

A second-year Computer Science PHD student
The training program provided me with a clear understanding of all aspects of entrepreneurship. I really enjoyed the combination of theory and practical work.

A second-year Neuroscience PhD student
I really enjoyed listening to the various speeches. They contributed to a diverse and enriching experience, and provided me with the general knowledge in fields in which I had no experience...

A first-year Biology PhD student

Our team earned a trophy that attests to the collaborative work between our team and the innovation professionals. Their support enabled us to make great progress on the long road to entrepreneurship. I would like to thank the participants and organizers of the Innovation Academy.


Each project team will be supported by two mentors. These mentors will support the teams in two main areas:

  1. Project Management
  2. Defining the project and taking it to the market

The Innovation Academy, therefore, distinguishes between two mentor profiles:

  • A “project management” mentor
  • A “sector” mentor

These mentors will be experienced professionals from the innovation sector who has been employed by one or several companies in the private sector or who has established their own company. They will be on hand to support the project team throughout the training program and to help them turn their innovative project from an idea to a business plan.
These mentors will take part in this program as volunteers and have clearly shown their enthusiasm.

The Innovation Academy has decided to incorporate mentoring in order to help participants develop their skills, establish a professional project, and build a professional network.
The mentors can be called upon by the project team as the project progresses.