The Polytechnic School of Lausanne puts its student-entrepreneurs in the spotlight

The Forum EPFL association is organizing the event in Switzerland from the 3rd to the 7th of October. This Tuesday, October 4th, is dedicated to start-ups. Some are the result of student work.

Achraf’s prototype draws attention: an electric piano and a screen, as wide as the instrument, placed over it. The notes scroll from top to bottom and indicate which key to play. “We gamify [rend ludique, NDLR] learning piano », enthuses the Moroccan student, in his second year of robotics at the Polytechnic Federal School of Lausanne (EPFL). After playing Frère Jacques, a student benevolently suggests areas for improvement. Ashraf takes note: “This is what we came here for, to test and gather advice to guide the rest of the project.” This Tuesday, October 4, 2022, at the Swisstech convention center, opposite the prestigious Swiss engineering school, the student presents for the first time Appstract, the start-up he developed with a friend.

Companies discover student projects

More than 120 start-ups and 200 companies, some of which are multinationals (Rolex, official sponsor, IBM, Alstom, etc.), meet from Monday, October 3 to Friday, October 7, 2022 to the 40th edition of the EPFL Forum. An edition marked by the post-covid economic recovery. Created in 1983 by students from the school, the fair organizes meetings between companies and students with the aim of promoting their professional integration. Companies pay CHF 2,500 (just under €2,600) to access the “Curriculum Library” students in order to reach the profiles that interest them. “The objective is to establish a first contact between actors and future engineers looking for an internship or a job”explains Evgueni Rousselot, in her third year of bachelor’s degree and a member of the association that oversees the event.

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Further on, Alexis (M1 informatics) and Diogo (M1 management and entrepreneurship), expose «KiTex»your website dedicated to “do it yourself”. “Someone wants to create their own soap and doesn’t know how? Well, we sent him a kit with everything he needs.”, they explain. Creating the site, which they coded on their own, took 11 months of work. If the two engineers didn’t have a problem with this part, the entrepreneurial aspect might be missing. In addition to some low-credit options in the bachelor’s degree, you have to wait for the master’s degree to follow a course ad hoc. “What is unfortunate at EPFL is that entrepreneurship is encouraged, that there are excellent infrastructures, but there is a lack of time. We should release or give more credits to this type of project.

Associations and ecology have their place

In addition to start-ups, associations have also found their place: Wednesday will be dedicated to NGOs for the first time. Affable and passionate, Margot, 20, introduces the expedition “Atlantean”. The association she created, SailowTech, is planning a 14-month journey from Guinea to Greenland via the Caribbean to study plankton and the impact of pollution on the species. “Carlina”a 13 meter cutter is ready. “No one cares about plankton, it’s invisible. However, it is 98% of the marine biomass and half of the planet’s oxygen., she explains. Ultimately, the goal is to offer expeditions to students to test scientific tools created upstream. And to use the data. “The challenge is to combine research and sustainability, raise awareness and stimulate action. Tomorrow’s engineers will shape the world»exposes Margot.

What do they think, exactly, of the presence of companies like Total or Philipp Morris at the fair? “We do not filter companiesexplains Evgueni Rousselot. Their presence can be an opportunity to approach them and why not change things on the inside. A student, committed to preserving the planet and wishing to remain anonymous, abounds with a slight irony: “It’s almost a chance to have them with us. More seriously, we can exchange views, debate. But above all, we must not divide and polarize.”

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