Grenoble’s nanotechnology & M2M lab, 50 years in the making

Grenoble’s nanotechnology & M2M lab, 50 years in the making


In case you needed proof that the heart of IoT isn’t 100% located in Paris, take a look at CEA-Leti, an ecosystem of R&D infrastructures and startups dedicated to nano-tech based in Grenoble.

Innovation supporting both industrial actors and startups

A subsidiary of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) – France’s Nuclear and Renewable Energy Commission – Leti is one of three laboratories of the Technology Research Division, and was established in 1967 in Grenoble. It now stands at the heart of a competitiveness cluster called MINATEC, and is therefore surrounded by universities, labs and industrial actors, creating a hub of expertise that attracts a lot of companies.

Leti’s mission not only is to create innovation but also to transfer them to industrial actors. In parallel, the laboratory promotes innovation and business by creating startups based on Leti’s technologies and R&D. The program dedicated to startups identifies promising technologies, a market for them, and the proper team to develop the projects. Leti’s researchers have the opportunity to build companies around technologies they work on; alternatively outsiders can offer Leti to work on their own project and become associates. Leti has already started over 50 startup companies in the past 35 years. Most of them received early-stage funding through a side organization called CEA Invest.

Today’s focus: make the Internet of Things benefit from 50 years of research

CEA-Leti has identified the gigantic opportunities offered by IoT and capitalizes on existing research projects: the lab has been working for 50 years on technologies that have become required building blocks for IoT, like sensors and low-consumption signal transmission.

A great example of this partnership between R&D and startups for the sake of IoT is the development of the “D-Shirt”– as in Digital Shirt. Following a study on signal transmission at the human scale (B.A.N: Body Area Network), a French company called Cityzen Sciences asked CEA-Leti to work on connectivity. The lab built a state-of-the-art technology that enables to integrate sensors inside textile fibres. The technology was then transferred to a Leti-startup called Primo 1D. The first D-shirt – which monitors a runner’s heart rate, temperature and speed, and provides localization – was presented at the CES last January in Las Vegas and won the Digital Health Awards. Mass production should begin this summer and will enable wearers to track physiological settings and share their data on social networks.

Wanna know more? You can meet CEA-Leti’s teams both at:

The Connected Conference in Paris on June 19th – 19th

The LetiDays in Grenoble on June 25th and 26th