InnovaXN Plenary Event 2023

The second InnovaXN Plenary Event was hosted at the ESRF, in collaboration with UGA and the ILL, on Thursday, 4th May 2023.

This meeting was a very important event in the InnovaXN calendar that brought together all students and supervisors from ESRF, ILL, and the partners in industry and universities. It was a valuable experience for the InnovaXN students in particular due to the face-to-face cross-disciplinary discussions and networking.

Welcoming and Event kick-off

The event kicked off with a welcome speech by Jacques Jestin, ILL Associate Director for the Science division, who gave a quick overview of the InnovaXN PhD programme, which has a duration of 5 years, started in September 2019, with two recruitment rounds, each targeted 20 PhD students (10 for ILL and 10 for ESRF) with project start dates beginning in September 2020 and September 2021.

InnovaXN today comprises 38 PhD students and was very successful in terms of the number of applications received. It is based on an international and interdisciplinary framework of research projects that are driven by industry challenges with academic and research infrastructure co-supervisors who collaborate to take advantage of the synchrotron and neutron techniques.

“The InnovaXN project is also supported by an extensive training programme, which aims to further support the students with the process of developing both – technical and soft skills – which will be applied in their future careers. One of the main objectives of this Ph.D. programme is to solve applicative questions by taking advantage of the complementarity between X-Ray and Neutron sources” – continued Jacques Jestin.

And again “Going back to the InnovaXN plenary event, it is a very important moment to see the progress of each research project and to further valorise the interaction with the academic supervisor and industrial partners.”

Michael Krisch, coordinator of InnovaXN for the ESRF continued the introduction:

I’m glad to be present at such an important appointment and to meet with all the young motivated scientists participating in the programme, moreover because the future of science relies on the dedication of the students and on the capacity to bridge the gap between academia, research, industry, and society, which is the real challenge that we face today. It’s clear that research infrastructures such as ILL, ESRF, and many others, have all the tools to do that, but it’s necessary to create a proper mix between fundamental research and something that is really innovation-driven, which comes through the people that we attract to our facilities but as well via the development we do in-house” – stated Michael.

Michael  also mentioned that even if there might be some “pressure” on student’s shoulders to do well in science, the main wish is that they stay in science to push it forward: being an InnovaXN PhD student today can look to a future as manager of a big facility, research leader in an RTO, or even a key player in industry, where it will be possible to push the limit further and come back to the facility to move forward in science, technology, and innovation.

As a conclusion, Michael highlighted that the students represent the future in science and that, with InnovaXN and the support from ILL, ESRF, and the European Commission, this just represents the starting point to go beyond.

Keynote talks and students’ clip presentation

Following the Directors’ welcome speeches, Patrick Bruno and Peter Fouquet introduced and welcomed on the stage the invited speakers for the two keynote talks scheduled for the day: the first one was held by Vincent Favre-Nicolin, Head of Algorithms and Scientific Data Analysis Group at ESRF, with the presentation “Artificial Intelligence for neutron and synchrotron facilities – applications, dreams, and mirages”; the second one was then given by Lea Di Cioccio, Eco-Innovation Programme Manager at CEA-Leti, with the presentation “Supporting the development of sustainable technologies: an actual implementation in R&D”.

The second slot of the InnovaXN Plenary Event was dedicated to the student clip session, chaired by the students themselves and split into 20 presentations, covering a wide range of research topics. Each cohort 2 PhD student give an overview of their project, providing insights and sharing their achievements so far and a view of future actions.

Poster sessions and networking event


Once all the presentations were completed and the directors – Michael Krisch and Jacques Jestin – gave their closing speeches, the participants moved to the poster session, followed by an aperitif and cocktail dinner at ESRF.

We would like to thank the directors, the invited speakers, the students and the supervisors who took part in the event, whether onsite or remote, the organisers, and all the participants who took part in the InnovaXN Plenary Event 2023!


Text by Chiara Facoetti