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CEA-Liten stories


Published on 19 March 2024

CEA-Liten stories​​

​Over its 20-year history, CEA-Liten has seen startups like Heliup, PowerUp, Isorg, and DistrictLab take root and grow. These ventures all develop and commercialize technologies invented at CEA-Liten, bringing our researchers’ vision of a Net Zero future out into the market. These are their stories.​

The CEA has a long history of transferring the technologies it develops to companies, helping them stay competitive, create jobs, and support France’s industrial sovereignty. Creating its own startup program was a logical evolution. Over the past five decades, the CEA has spun off some 250 ventures, 70% of which are still in business. The organization’s startup creation began to pick up speed in 2018, when all CEA institutes embarked together on a strategic transformation around impact-driven innovation.

Since 1972, more than 250 start-ups have been created in this way, and the support given to them by the CEA ensures their sustained success; more than 80% are still trading ten years on. DistrictLab, with its heating network design and optimization software, Inocel, with its 300 kW fuel cell, Heliup, with its ultra-light solar panels, Genvia, with its high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzers, and Wattalps, with its customized Li-ion batteries for industrial equipment are some of the more recent startups from CEA-Liten labs.

The CEA keeps a close eye on the market, picking up weak signals and identifying future trends to stay at the cutting edge of science in a world where new advances are emerging more rapidly than ever. Our intelligence activities also inform our R&D program orientations. A proactive IP policy—the CEA is one of the top patent filers in Europe—is one of our strengths. The CEA is also France’s top-ranking organization on the Clarivate Top 100 Global Innovators list and the only research organization to rank high year after year (2024 marks the twelfth appearance of the CEA in the ranking). ​

​ ​Could the next CEA startup be yours?​

The CEA has created a program designed specifically for startups, providing support from ideation to startup creation. Our experts can help assess a technology’s potential, develop an IP portfolio, and come up with a business model. Startups supported by the CEA also become part of our strong network of partners, from industrial companies to venture capital firms. Partnerships with the CEA can take a variety of forms, including:

  • A custom license (patents/know-how)
  • R&D through a joint lab
  • Use of facilities (as part of an R&D contract)
  • Equity investment (for CEA spinoffs)

If you are a founder, an experienced entrepreneur on the lookout for new opportunities, or a partner seeking pioneering solutions, we would love to talk to you!

It has also created an intrapreneurship programme, called “Magellan”, to assist employees who want to be part of the adventure. From the initial shape of the idea to the hunt for funds and ultimately the market-ready proof-of-concept, project leaders are guided by experts for three years, to ensure that their start-up is as viable and robust as possible. This ecosystem is complemented by the CEA’s 700 industrial partners, representing a wealth of priority contact points for the start-ups.

Our startups​​​​

​​At the CEA, startups play a vital role in transferring technology from our labs to the market. At CEA-Liten in particular, our focus is on tech startups whose mission is to commercialize innovations developed in our labs in the form of solutions to energy, environmental, and climate challenges.

If you haven’t heard of HotBlock OnBoard, Isorg, SEED Energy, or Steadysun yet, you will soon! Find out who is behind these exciting ventures! ​

Our startups