The French DGA defence procurement agency invests on average €730M a year on a wide range of upstream research projects, from laboratory conceptual studies up to prototype tests in operational environments and this in every field that may have an impact on tomorrow’s defence.
This is the fifth year that the DGA has gathered together key players of these research projects during an Innovation day which this year, and for the fourth consecutive time, was held on the Ecole Polytechnique campus in the western suburbs of Paris.
The idea is not only to highlight a representative selection of innovative projects funded by the DGA, but also to encourage the dialogue between small and medium sized enterprises, laboratories, universities and major companies to accelerate the progression from idea to product, give visibility to the DGA’s scientific and technological preferences in order to give direction to small and medium sized enterprises, and finally to help the latter make themselves known to major defence contractors.
So, on 24 November some 850 people gathered around six thematic stands (sensors, materials, propulsion/energy, radar/telecommunications, intelligence/security/cyberdefence, health/NRBC protection), a “success stories” stand where a selection of projects funded by the DGA and now ordered or integrated into a weapons system were on show, 10 scientific workshops and a plenary session. And, for the first time this Innovation Day actually ran over two days, the first one reserved for some Ecole Polytechnique students and for DGA personnel in order to “anchor the culture of innovation more deeply throughout all the DGA’s activities.”
In the next few days we’ll write about some of the innovations we saw which struck us as being of most interest to ground forces. But for today we’d like to present the three PhD students who were given the “DGA 2016 Thesis Prize” during the Innovation Day by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and DGA Director General Laurent Collet-Billon.
Jean-François Bourgouin, thesis at the École centrale Paris with Safran, for his work concerning the “dynamics of a flame in an annular combustion chamber with multiple injectors.” Thanks to his ambitious work on a representative configuration, rapid progress can be expected by engine manufacturers and later on the armed forces’ aircraft and helicopter engines.
Cécile Formosa, thesis at the LAAS (Laboratoire d’analyse et architecture des systèmes) of CNRS Toulouse, for her work seeking to “understand the action targets of antimicrobian molecules with the help of nanotechnologies.” The aim is to try and counter the increasing resistance by bacteria to antibiotics observed on a global scale, not only creating a threat for public health but also for that of military personnel on missions abroad.
Florian Maire, thesis Telecom ParisTech with the ONERA, for his work on “detection and classification of multispectral targets in the infrared.” The new method of apprenticeship developed during the thesis enables a more pertinent estimation to be made of the parametres to take into account in the infrared band. This subject is of interest to the defence sector for its applications in the observation, surveillance and intelligence fields as well, of course, as warning, detection and reconnaissance of vehicles, ships, aircraft and missiles.
Every year for the past 14 years, the DGA has honoured one or more young PhD students whose thesis has been financed in part by the Defence Ministry. In 2016, the DGA is spending €11M on almost 450 theses, post-doctoral internships or research abroad.