Interview: Pierre Benech, Director, Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Phelma Engineering School

Categorie(s) : Education, Industry, Innovation & Society, Interviews, News

Published : 5 February 2016

" Student entrepreneurs innovate at Phelma "

Pierre Benech, Director, Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Phelma Engineering School


How does Phelma help student entrepreneurs?
Our first two students to have obtained “student entrepreneur” status—a French government program—are Pierre Schefler and Nicolas Schoemaker. During the 2014–2015 academic year they set up their company on top of their third-year course load. Support came in the form of a flexible class schedule, assistance starting their business, and approval to replace the usual six-month internship and culminating project with their startup.
They have graduated, but still have student entrepreneur status: now enrolled at business school IAE Grenoble, they are continuing to grow their business. They still have an office and lab at Phelma.

What kind of results is the program getting?
It’s still too early to tell. But the program does appear to offer a number of benefits. Starting a business in your garage is the stuff of legend. But there are more practical—and effective—ways of doing it! Student entrepreneurs can get their student benefits (health coverage, subsidized public transportation fares, etc.) extended, a definite plus!

Has the program encouraged you to promote student entrepreneurship more?
Helping student entrepreneurs is part of how we at Phelma support innovation. However, we don’t want to put students on a path that might not be right for them. You’re either an entrepreneur or you’re not, and we have to be very cautious not to turn potential entrepreneurs off—possibly for good.

Learn more about Phelma student businesses:



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