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Serving innovation

Laurent Cousin

In her job, Marianne Faucheux uses her talent to help innovative businesses.  On behalf of the state, she supports and guides industrial R&D projects in the health sector, her field of specialization. And in her profession, having a PhD certainly helps.

Marianne Faucheux is head of the Biotechnology and Innovation Division of the General Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services (DGCIS) at the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and Employment. She sums up her work in one sentence: “to help people talk to each other and work together.”

These “people” are R&D players, competitive clusters, businesses and university laboratories. With her team of about ten people, Marianne is in charge of public support for industrial R&D projects in the health sector, her field of specialization.

Marianne Faucheux works for a public organization but her career path has mostly been focused on the corporate world. As student at the Ecole Normale Superieur, she defended her thesis in cellular and molecular genetics in 2000. She then taught medicine for a few years at the university of Paris-Sud (Paris XI). Although she enjoyed this experience, she soon looked toward other horizons, finding that a career in research left little room for human interaction.

Marianne decided to sit an industrial engineering  entrance exam at the Ecole des Mines while doing a post-doctorate as project manager. To prepare for this exam she did an internship with the DRIRE Ile-de-France (Regional Directorate for Industry, Research and the Environment), “a stepping stone” between the academic and corporate worlds.

Essential science training
After passing the entrance exam, she joined the DGCIS as project officer for Biotechnology then, in 2005, became head of department. “Our task is to suggest measures to support businesses in the health sector and implement them. This entails having overall knowledge of the sector and also good technical skills to be able to evaluate the projects and monitor them over time. Each year in the R&D field we evaluate around forty projects that come out of competitive clusters and we fund about twenty of them,” explains Marianne.

And to judge the quality of a project requires solid scientific knowledge: “It's quite technical, you have to be able to understand in order to make others understand and convince my hierarchy when it's a good project. My thesis taught me how to look for information and how to compare.” Marianne says. Having a PhD in this job gives one credibility. “It helps me make contact with R&D actors. As we have the same background, it’s easier to make myself heard and understood.”

But that is just one aspect of her job. She also has to be able to define and maintain a strategy and in particular negotiate budgetary aspects on a daily basis. “I learned on the job and from a few in-house training sessions. I learn from the companies I work with and I use my new skills as best I can.” A PhD is also someone who knows how to be flexible.

Mini CV:
2005: Head of the Biotechnology and Innovation Division of the General Directorate for Enterprise (DGE).
2001-2002: Post-doctorate. Head of a research project on RNA (a ribonucleic acid) interference in cell culture.
2000: PhD in Biology