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Charlotte Dejean, winner of the 2023 i-PhD innovation competition organised by Bpifrance

Her project for bio-assisted extraction from mining waste was selected as one of the winners of the French government's i-PhD innovation competition, announced during a ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet on Tuesday 4 July. Charlotte Dejean, a PhD at Université Paris Cité and a young researcher in the Geomicrobiology team at the IPGP, will benefit from a support programme to help her bring her project to fruition more quickly.

Charlotte Dejean, winner of the 2023 i-PhD innovation competition organised by Bpifrance

Publication date: 05/07/2023

Awards and Distinctions, Press, Research

As part of France 2030, the Innovation Competition, run on behalf of the French government by Bpifrance and in collaboration with ADEME on certain themes, provides support for French researchers and innovative businesses through three complementary programmes: i-PhD, i-Lab and i-Nov. The i-PhD programme, which was launched in 2019, is aimed at young researchers and is designed to attract them to the development of their work with a view to creating or co-creating start-ups with a technological breakthrough, in conjunction with technology transfer structures and public research laboratories. Each winner of the i-PhD competition benefits from a support programme to help accelerate their project (mentoring, privileged access to the French Tech grant, time spent immersed in the deep tech ecosystem, promotional tools for the Grand Prix).

A PhD at Université Paris Cité, Charlotte Dejean is a winner of the i-PhD 2023 competition and, with the support of the university’s Innovation Unit, is currently developing an innovative project in the IPGP laboratories based on bio-assisted extraction techniques from mining waste. “The growing demand for manganese is coming up against the concomitant decline in available deposits and the environmental impact of its extraction,” she explains. “In my project, I am developing this bio-assisted extraction technique using mining waste and endemic bacteria, which offers low energy and environmental costs and broadens the field of application of these emerging recovery technologies.”

This project is fully in line with the themes of the IPGP, and in particular those of the Geomicrobiology team, where Charlotte Dejean carried out her PhD work and which has been one of the pioneers in the exploration of intraterrestrial ecosystems nested within rocks. Indeed, “this project is based on understanding the relationships between microbial ecosystems and their mineralised environments. Over the last twenty years or so, the Geomicrobiology team has developed considerable expertise in this area, in particular by developing the micro-imaging techniques that are essential to their study”, explains the researcher.

The next major steps are, on the one hand, to analyse new natural samples in order to observe and understand in greater detail the processes involved and, at the same time, to try to reproduce these processes purely in the laboratory in order to obtain proof of concept. “Finally,” she concludes, “at the same time, it’s going to be crucial to immerse yourself in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in order to understand what’s at stake, which is a little different from that of academic research, and that’s what this year’s i-PhD award will enable you to do.”

> See all the winners of the i-PhD 2023 innovation competition.

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