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‘They brought a can-do attitude, matched with critical thinking’: first cohort of EPFL graduates impress at Biopôle start-ups

In advance of the official launch of Biopôle SA and Catalyze4Life EPFL’s partnership, three Biopôle start-ups – Limula, PeriVision and biped.ai – participated in a pilot programme in the summer of 2023. Each start-up hosted one EPFL student as an intern, immersing them in their respective teams, projects and missions.

During their time at the start-ups, all three interns, Yisong Mao, Marius Plancherel and Amine Tourki, undertook fascinating research. Yisong developed an innovative prototype vision test using virtual reality, Marius worked on automated cell therapy manufacturing and Amine helped to improve self-driving car technology for the visually impaired.

Benefitting from interns’ fresh eyes and expertise

The interns’ input was much valued by their colleagues. As Limula COO Thomas Eaton put it: ‘Hosting an intern allowed us to incorporate an outside perspective into our work, while also re-enthusing the permanent members of the team, who got to see the technology they were working on through fresh eyes. What’s more, Marius brought a can-do attitude, matched with critical thinking, which meant he actively contributed to the design and implementation of new device functionalities, automation protocols and standard operating procedures.’

Similarly, Patrick Kessel, CEO of PeriVision, praised the engaged manner and work ethic of his company’s intern, Yisong, and bemoaned the fact that his internship could only last three months. He expressed his intention to ‘apply for another intern to continue this work next year’.

From left to right (PeriVision team): Patrick Kessel (CEO), Yisong Mao (Intern), Dr Serife Kucur Ergunay (Co-Founder and CTO) and Maciej Jordanek (Software Engineer)

Finally, Maël Fabien, CEO of biped.ai, was thrilled to take on Amine, a Master’s student who had already worked on a related project for SBB to develop adaptive technology for the visually impaired. Maël was impressed by how ‘Amine’s energy and passion shone through, and he showed great initiative’. Drawing on his previous experience in this field, and working in partnership with the Honda Research Institute, Amine dedicated himself to improving the software used in the computer vision pipeline for self-driving cars. Excitingly, he will continue this work at biped.ai throughout this year, as part of his Master’s thesis project.

Amine Tourki with Maël Fabien (Co-Founder and CEO, on the right) and Bruno Vollmer (Co-Founder and CTO, on the left).

Developing new skills and networks through internships

Happily, the interns also found their experiences at the Biopôle start-ups enriching. According to Amine, who was extensively involved from the outset in ‘meeting prep, dealing with clients and collaborators, and much much more’ at biped.ai, this internship allowed him to hone his professional soft skills and required him to think on his feet in the fast-paced, non-hierarchal start-up context. Yao, similarly, learned not only how to develop exciting technology but also how to collaborate within a tight-knit team, fuelling his desire to make a career for himself in start-ups moving forwards.

And Marius declared himself to be ‘humbled’ by the opportunity to take part in a project that will save lives, as well as thankful to his colleagues for creating such a welcoming, supportive environment. In his own words: ‘When I had questions or doubts, my colleagues were unfailingly ready to help me. This was combined, however, with a sense of ownership and autonomy, as I often performed experiments and analysed data on my own. I would wholeheartedly recommend participating in an internship – especially if you can do it within a start-up like Limula.’

Marius Plancherel with his supervisor, Limula team member, Luca Bellosta

Biopole is delighted that this first round of collaboration was so successful – we look forward to welcoming a new cohort of interns very soon!

About the initiative
Biopôle SA and Catalyze4Life have formally agreed to finance up to three internship projects per year, with each internship lasting up to six months. Here is some key information about the initiative:

  • The internships form an integral part of specific Master’s theses or projects.
  • The salary for each intern is shared equally among Biopôle SA, Catalyze4Life and the start-up hosting the intern. The team at Catalyze4Life acts as scientific project supervisors throughout the internships, providing students with scientific expertise and support.
  • The suitability of both the student and the start-up is assessed during the selection process.
  • Candidates for the internship must demonstrate strong commitment to the programme, and start-ups are required to submit an innovative project proposal.

Learn more
Apply now

The next set of internships will take place in the summer of 2024.

  • Biopôle start-ups interested in participating can submit their internship proposal via the EPFL platform by 1stDecember, 2023.
  • The deadline for student applications is 2nd February, 2024.



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