Inaugurated on Wednesday 09 November 2021, the joint laboratory X-SELANS (Xlim-Safran Electronics Lab for ANtennaS) will enable teams from the University of Limoges, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Safran, with support from the French National Research Agency (ANR), to further cement their ties and their ability to carry out research and development on antennas and active sources, as well as the integration of microwave functions.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Jean-Marie Bétermier, Executive Vice President for Space at Safran Electronics & Defense and CEO of Safran Data Systems, Isabelle Klock-Fontanille, President of the University of Limoges, Laurent Nicolas, Scientific Deputy Director of the CNRS Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS) Division, and Pierre de Souffron, coordinator of the “LabCom” (joint laboratories) program at the ANR.
Work at X-SELANS will be funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the three other partners, and will involve a dozen researchers, engineers, doctoral candidates and interns. The creation of this joint lab will ensure the continuation of a partnership between Safran and XLIM, the joint research unit between the CNRS and the University of Limoges, initiated by doctoral theses under CIFRE, a government program for “training through research”, in 2014.
Through this initiative, Safran Data Systems plans to take a proactive role in the development of new active antenna technologies and receiving stations to consolidate, over the medium term, its world leadership as a producer of ground stations for space and flight testing.
The research carried out at X-SELANS will address a number of challenges, including the integration of microwave components and amplifiers, the improvement of radiating component networks and the measurement and control of high-gain antennas.
“Working closely with a partner in academia such as XLIM will enable us to significantly speed up Safran Data Systems’ innovation and competitiveness in the ground station market,” said Jean-Marie Bétermier, CEO of Safran Data Systems.
“Developing proven skills in the miniaturization and integration of microwave electronics in antennas, as well as digital technology, will be a critical advantage for the manufacturers involved,” he added.
Isabelle Klock-Fontanille, President of the University of Limoges, added. “We’re delighted to contribute our scientific expertise to these major research projects, thus enhancing the industrial and technological expertise of French industry.”
“The XLIM lab is already internationally known for its work on microwave circuits and systems,” said Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of the CNRS. “Its industry-focused innovation capabilities are now expressed in the X-SELANS lab, a structured and integrated partnership between Safran Data Systems and academia. Today’s signature reflects the trend at the CNRS to strengthen relations with private companies, as shown by the nearly 200 joint laboratories now in operation.”
Pierre de Souffron, scientific project advisor and coordinator of the LabCom program at the National Research Agency, said: “Creating a joint lab is above all a human story. It encourages and facilitates the hiring of research engineers, doctoral candidates and post-docs. Over and above its scientific achievements, a joint lab offers the possibility of evaluating the structures involved at the end of a project to determine whether these structures should be made more permanent and how they can be used by the stakeholders. This capacity clearly reflects the benefits of the public-private partnership model.”
Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aviation (propulsion, equipment and interiors), defense and space markets. Its core purpose is to contribute to a safer, more sustainable world, where air transport is more environmentally friendly, comfortable and accessible.
Safran has a global presence, with 76,000 employees and sales of 16.5 billion euros in 2020 and holds, alone or in partnership, world or regional leadership positions in its core markets. Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, and is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices.
Safran Data Systems, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, is a world leader in testing instrumentation, telemetry and space communications. Based in France, it makes a complete range of satellite tracking ground stations and equipment, working with satellite manufacturers, integrators, commercial operators and space agencies (communications and Earth observation satellites).
At the heart of Europe, the University of Limoges is an important multidisciplinary higher education cluster in an environment more conducive to scientific development. Open, it is a place brimming with interactions, with a diverse student population, efficient hosting structures, close-knit teams, training based on research of a very high level and for well-identified opportunities. Its scientific excellence, with its state of the art laboratories and major partnerships, contributes to inventing the world of the future.
The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) is one of the most recognized and renowned public research institutions in the world. For more than 80 years, it has continued to attract talent at the highest level and to nurture multi -disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects at the national, European and international levels. Geared towards the public interest, it contributes to the scientific, economic, social and cultural progress of France. The partnership with companies is the basis of its promotion policy. It is available in particular through more than 150 joint structures with industrial players and through the creation of around a hundred start-ups each year, testifying to the economic potential of its research work. The CNRS ensures that both research findings and data are accessible; this shared knowledge targets different audiences: scientific communities, media, policymakers, economic players and the general public.
The National Research Agency (ANR) funds research projects in France. A public establishment reporting to the French Ministry of Research, the ANR is tasked with funding and promoting the development of fundamental and applied research, technical innovation and technology transfers, along with partnerships between public and private research teams at the national, European and international levels. The ANR is also the main operator for France’s Investment in the Future programs (PIA 1, 2, 3 et 4) in the fields of higher education and research, for which it handles the selection, funding and monitoring of projects, in particular concerning actions to foster excellence, research infrastructures and support for the improvement and recognition of research. The ANR has received ISO 9001 certification for all processes related to project selection.
Created in 2013 by the ANR, the “LabCom” program is designed to support research entities in academia co-develop joint laboratories with industry to foster the creation of sustainable bilateral partnerships and generate skills and knowledge. A “LabCom” brings together a research organization or entity with a French company, generally a small, medium or intermediate sized enterprise. It is characterized by joint governance between teams from academia and industry, a joint roadmap, a joint strategy to generate value from their work, a predefined agreement to share the intellectual property and a strategy to support long-term collaboration. The aim behind pooling the assets of a research establishment (research capabilities, equipment, etc.) and a company (research capabilities, knowledge of the market, etc.) is to stimulate value creation for the benefit of both partners.
The ANR allocates funding of up to 363,000 to the academic partner for a project period of up to 54 months. The industry partner makes an equivalent contribution to the joint lab. The LabCom call for projects is open to all science and technology fields.