Meet the 9 laureates of the 2020 proof-of-concept call for proposals by PSL Valorisation & Qlife


They are creating startups and transferring knowledge and technology to the business world: meet the 9 laureates of the proof-of-concept call for proposals by PSL Valorisation and the Institut Convergences Qlife.

PSL Valorisation and the Institut Convergences Qlife, with support from the Fonds National de Valorisation (SGPI), published a call for proposals in February 2020, aimed at supporting innovative projects with a high potential impact, across all fields and disciplines. The aim is to fund studies, prototypes, or proofs-of-concept that could facilitate the transfer of these projects and their socio-economic impact.

19 high-potential projects, from 7 institutions within PSL, in all disciplines and fields of application, were submitted to this call. After evaluation by independent experts, 9 projects were proposed for funding by the selection committee:

  • Aurélie Mosse, ENSAD: A human/mecatronic device for use in manufacturing clothing and textile items responsibly on an industrial scale.
  • Charlotte Hauser, ENS-PSL: Tools for identifying language disorders in sign languages, to enable medical professionals to diagnose and treat hearing-impaired patients.
  • Mickaël Pruvost, ESPCI-PSL: Electroactive materials that have an artificial sense of touch, with applications ranging from smart clothing for athletics or health care to highly sensitive surfaces for robotics.
  • Antoine Nigués, ENS-PSL: A simple and versatile new scanning probe microscopy instrument, designed for research and industry.
  • Matthieu Labousse, ESPCI-PSL: Microfluidics technology that can be used to assemble millions of spooled microdrops in order to create metamaterials with unique new properties.
  • Viacheslav Mazlin, ESPCI-PSL: Cellular eye imaging technology, for use in ophthalmology.
  • Antonin Morillon, Institut Curie: New biomarkers in urine and blood for detecting prostate cancer with help from artificial intelligence.
  • Ana-Maria Lennon-Duménil, Institut Curie: An innovative drug that targets the lysosomal calcium channel TRPML1 to strengthen immunity to tumors.
  • Ludger Johanes, Institut Curie: Optimization of “lectibodies,” which are designed to recognize glycosphingolipids, in order to treat prostate cancer, breast cancer and neuroblastoma, the most common forms of cancer among men, women and children respectively.

In order to make to most of all the communities that make the diversity of PSL, a funding ticket has been set aside for the fields of Human and Social Sciences, Arts and Design.

Table de tricotissage et vêtements tricotissés, Clinique Vestimentaire, 2019.(Crédits photo Mathieu Faluomi)


The grant recipient is the COCREAT project, led by Aurélie Mosse, a teacher and researcher at EnsadLab, and carried out by the Soft Matters research group. COCREAT aims to develop a human/mecatronic device, somewhere between knitting and weaving, that can be used to manufacture textile items. The goal of the project is to develop new, “bespoke” garments and textile items (i.e., based on measurements taken of each person’s dimensions) by electronically and/or manually controlling machinery settings and operation. During the clothing design and construction phase, the equipment conducts a multimodal “dialogue” with the designer that can be completely or partly manual, completely  or partly automated, then makes pieces of fabric electronically with no scrap pieces. The idea is to create a tool that can replace a portion of the work currently done manually, but without eliminating the creative design process. This collaborative robot bears similarities to rapid prototyping processes. It’s based on a patented technology developed by Jeanne Vicerial as part of her SACRe (Sciences, Arts, Creation, Research) doctoral study at PSL in collaboration with Mines Paris-PSL.


The Lang’Action project, led by Charlotte Hauser, a postdoctoral fellow at ENS-PSL’s Institut Jean Nicod, will provide health care professionals in France with access to innovative tools for identifying language disorders in sign languages. Using and interpreting the tests developed to date requires a high level of computer expertise as well as a basic understanding of the principles behind sign languages; as a result, those tests cannot be used by clinicians. The Lang’Action project plans to enhance those tests by developing interpretive software that is easy to use, so health care professionals can receive, diagnose and treat hearing-impaired patients. The project’s research team hopes to ensure that the hearing-impaired receive the same quality of care given to all their fellow patients. Charlotte — a participant in the PSL-iTeams training program — will be leading a start-up venture as part of the technology transfer process.


Vision du futur instrument de tomographie développé dans le cadre du projet EIRENE


The EIRENE project, led by Viacheslav Mazlin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut Langevin at ESPCI Paris-PSL and a laureate of the 2020 i-PhD competition, will expand a cellular imaging technology for studying the eye. The research team recently developed subcellular-resolution imaging of the human eye using full-field optical coherence tomography techniques developed in the laboratory. That technology opens the door to compact, low-cost ocular imaging instruments that can provide images of the various parts of the eye with unmatched resolution. The grant from PSL Prematuration is intended to advance the project from the proof of concept stage to a reliable clinical prototype. The technology will be transferred to SharpEye, a spinoff of the same laboratory, with support from PSL Valorisation.


Création d'un train de gouttes dans une puce microfluidique


The MimeCodr project combines the expertise of Matthieu Labousse, a CNRS research fellow in wave physics, and Joshua McGraw, a research fellow in microfluidics, also at CNRS. The project is hosted by the Gulliver laboratory at ESPCI Paris-PSL and the Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (IPGG)-PSL. MimeCodr aims to develop technology for creating inexpensive metamaterials by assembling millions of spooled microdrops. This prematuration grant will be used to develop a microfluidics chip that allows for mass production of spooled microdrops in order to create an initial sample of this metamaterial and consolidate the intellectual property rights, with backing from PSL Valorisation. We expect to produce a new class of electromagnetic devices that offer both low production costs and mechanical flexibility. The electromagnetic properties of the prototype samples produced could be analyzed in partner industrial laboratories identified in advance.


Biomarqueurs ARN non référencés


In the field of quantitative biology applied to medicine, the CirDark-Marker project, backed by the Qlife program, will lead to the development of new tools for diagnosing prostate cancer. Cancer of the prostate is the third leading cause of cancer death and is still often misdiagnosed, even after a biopsy. As a result, at-risk patients do not always receive appropriate treatment.
“By combining our molecular and AI expertise, we have designed an identification pipeline for reference-free RNA-based biomarkers that offers unmatched performance, and have conducted a proof of concept on urine from 55 patients. The prematuration grant will enable us to validate that signature on an international, multicentric cohort for a urinary test, and also identify new blood biomarkers for prognostic purposes. Our goal is to create a robust, noninvasive test for diagnosing and classifying the most aggressive and metastatic forms of prostate cancer. When administered prior to a biopsy, it will ensure that biopsies are performed only in the event of positive results, and will offer critical aid in deciding between active monitoring and treatment.” — Antonin Morillon, Research Director at the CNRS and leader of the Non-coding RNA, epigenetics and genome fluidity team team at the Institut Curie.

For this call for proposals, PSL's partners are:

  • The Fonds National de Valorisation, which supports PSL as part of the experimentation launched in 2016, because of the originality of PSL's technology transfer model based on disruptive innovation and the creation of start-ups.
  • Institut Convergences Qlife, dedicated to quantitative biology and interdisciplinary study of the behavior and dynamics of living systems. Qlife has joined this call for projects to support 3 start-up projects in this field.