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The Université de Lyon's Doctoriales: a fresh look at the challenges of innovation

The Université de Lyon's Doctoriales aim to bring PhD students and local socio-economic organizations together.

The Doctoriales offer a hands-on training program where multidisciplinary PhD teams can take a fresh look at the challenges faced by organizations (companies, authorities, associations, etc.). These can be technological, strategic, organizational, marketing, usage, development and international challenges, etc.

Possible subjects

This list is indicative; the precise form of the suggested case studies will need to be adapted according to the spatial and temporal constraints of the exercise, to the data given to the teams, and to whether data and external individuals can be accessed on the day.
  • Research new fields of application for an existing product;
  • Research new fields of application for specific skills in a company;
  • Suggest various strategies for developing an innovation;
  • Analyze the development opportunities and risks of the company based on areas for diversification that have not yet been thoroughly looked at;
  • Suggest ways to optimize, substitute or enhance the reliability of a manufacturing method;
  • Evaluate the development opportunities and risks of a particular market (in a particular country or sector, etc.);
  • Establish partnerships to develop a full range of services abroad;
  • Suggest ways of anticipating and adapting to changes in use and regulatory changes;
  • Construct or challenge a vision for the future of certain markets. Identify a possible way of adapting a service;
  • Consider new ways of organizing the company or enterprise sector that promotes innovation and/or collaboration and/or the entrepreneurial ability of its employees;
  • Identify new skill requirements or partnerships to support a particular structural change (downsizing, reorganizing, developing a new range of products or services, developing a market, increasing turnover, expanding abroad, etc.);
  • Address technical or experimental bottlenecks to adapt the company to other markets (new standards, etc.).

The Doctoriales have a dual objective:

  • Enable PhD students to tackle the complexity of various professional sectors and strengthen their adaptability and ability to address operational issues;
  • Bring original added value to organizations with innovative operational projects or real strategic challenges, and develop better practical understanding of the skills of PhD students.


Day 1: Training day

  • Methodology and work on mock projects;
  • Formation of the multidisciplinary teams;
  • Learning about organizations and their operational challenges/projects.

Day 2: "Cauldron" day with companies

  • The teams seize their challenge and put together a response;
  • Independent teamwork;
  • The organization leading the project is there to provide support if needed;
  • Group presentations of the deliverables and discussions.

Day 3: Feedback from PhD students about the skills they have mobilized and developed


The work has strict confidentiality rules, as the challenges raised are real. The organization leading the project retains ownership of the findings of the work. The work will be carried out on-site over the program's two and a half days.


The Université de Lyon's Doctoriales have trained 180 PhD students and accompanied 25 organizations.

I had two objectives for taking part in the Doctoriales: gain creative experience looking at various disciplines and walk away with solid approaches and responses. We met both objectives.
That was the feedback from one of the partner companies taking part in the program, all of whom unanimously praised the commitment and professionalism of the PhD students throughout the experience.

The following advice was given to PhD students during their presentations:
You are more versatile than you think! Go for it!


Watch the video from the roundtable dicussion on our YouTube channel