Paying It Forward to Foster Innovation

As we shared in our recent post about the upcoming CES, our pavilion will feature a Startup Village featuring 12 innovative new companies who are part of our SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs Program and Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.  We are excited to have these cutting-edge startups with us at the event, and proud that their work is being accelerated by our dedicated programs.

To learn more about what these programs are all about, we talked with their leaders: Greg Smith and Frédéric Vacher.

3DPerspectives: Thanks for taking some time to share more about your programs with us.  Can you each quickly describe what they’re about?

Greg Smith: The SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs Program was developed in 2016 to assist hardware startups to be successful and competitive.  When we would ask early stage hardware startups why they were using free programs instead of SOLIDWORKS, they would immediately cite cost.  They knew the capabilities SOLIDWORKS could offer to help them develop their products, but with such limited funding they had to make tradeoffs.  So we wanted to take cost off the table for promising companies.  We give them 12 months of access to any SOLIDWORKS tools they want, for up to 3 licenses per tool.  We also give them any training and technical support they need during that year. We don’t ask anything of them other than to be successful.  We are here to invest in their future – to pay it forward…though of course we do hope that they’ll be Dassault Systèmes customers as they grow.

Frédéric Vacher: The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab was founded in 2015, and our Startup Accelerator program has a similar mission as the SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs program: to support up and coming organizations.  We are an open innovation laboratory. We embrace the concept of the social enterprise and draw upon our long history of expertise in virtual technologies to open new perspectives of innovation for a more sustainable world.   The Lab offers a wider range of support services other than software – though program participants can access any software they need from Dassault Systèmes’ 12 brands.  We look to support innovation in the domains of city, life, lifestyle, Internet of Things and ideation.  Our focus is on the mentoring Dassault Systèmes’ experts can offer to nascent companies with amazing ideas.  We also provide these startups access to state-of-the-art Fab Labs in our headquarters in France and the US to help them bring their products to life.  The bottom line is that we help startups to digitalize but also give them capabilities to physically produce their ideas.

3DP: How do you identify candidates for your programs?

FV:  For the Lab, we have a selection committee that meets quarterly.  Up to six projects are pitched each time, and we get these candidates from a number of places.  Companies themselves can find us on the web and apply directly.  Many of our employees around the globe are aware of organizations working on cutting-edge ideas, and they nominate those companies for the program.  Our employees can also found their own company and be supported through the Lab.  And we can also ask organizations ourselves that we hear about.  The main requirement is to be an official company that is in the early stage.  Because our work with these companies is intensive, we only take on about 10 companies per year, so it’s a very selective process.

GS: The SOLIDWORKS program is more broad; there is no limit to how many companies are in the program.  The criteria is you must have a business – you can’t be an individual – and be designing and selling a physical product, not a service.

3DP: How does an organization apply? And what happens if they’re selected?

GS:  Our process is very straight forward – we have a dedicated webpage for SOLIDWORKS for Entreprenuers and the application is online.  People fill out that form, and we are committed to making a quick turn – generally an applicant will know within a few days if they are in.  This means that if selected they can get software quickly up and running.

FV:  While interested parties must first complete an application, a pitch by a Dassault Systemes employee is required.  Once that employee qualifies the project, they present it at the next quarterly  committee meeting.  If selected, we draw up a one-year contract that can be renewable up to five years.

3DP: Can you share a few success stories?

GS: Broms Technologies is a great story.  They are determined to find new ways to teach children about electronics and logic. ProtoBricks is a building kit that lets anyone learn how to build digital circuits that snaps together on LEGO®-compatible bricks. Children of all ages have the opportunity to learn about shift registersbinary numbers and power their imaginations. There are no tools, wires or programming. Most of their team was already trained in SOLIDWORKS.  They knew what they wanted and how to find it, but it was about the money.  They had been at it seven years by the time they joined the program, and as CEO and founder Joe Broms told us, “Being part of the program advanced Protobricks so much faster than I expected.”

FV: One of the first successes coming out the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is Biomodex.  They are developing sophisticated software and fabricating life-like human organs that can be used by medical students to learn and by doctors to practice surgical procedures before proceeding with a live operation. The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab provided Biomodex with access to its FabLab and with assistance using the Dassault Systèmes´ applications for organ design and for the manufacture of its first prototypes.  They were at CES last year, which you can see here.

3DP: What can we expect to learn from the organizations joining us at CES?

GS: One of the companies from our program that you can hear from at CES is Perseus Mirrors.  They are creating the world’s smartest mirror.  It offers features including makeup advice, music, video, weather, apps and widgets that users can customize to fit their morning routine. Another is UNSUPERVISED.AI.  They are focused on the last mile of e-commerce delivery by building a robot to integrate with delivery vehicles and automate the last 50 meters of the delivery.

FV: We have a full schedule of presenters such as SYOS  – founded by a woman who wants to offer musicians the highest level of customization you can think of: the possibility to shape their own and unique sound..  Another is L’Increvable: is the first washing machine entirely designed to be easy repaired and upgraded by the user or an independent repairer. L’Increvable aims to reduce the e-wastes production and to foster local employment in the maintenance field.

3DP: Thank you both.  I’m excited to see what these companies can produce with the help of Dassault Systemes solutions and support!  For anyone attending CES, look here for the full schedule of booth presentations.

Alyssa Ross

Alyssa Ross

Alyssa is a Communications Director on the Dassault Systèmes Corporate Publishing team. She’s been part of DS for over 16 years, in roles ranging from public relations to marketing programs. Twitter: @DS_Alyssa