Safran Tech, at the heart of innovation at Safran

Stéphane Cueille, Director of Safran Tech, shares his insight into the role and operations of the Group's new R&T center, located at Plateau de Saclay in Paris's southern suburbs, two months after its inauguration.
Depuis le 1er janvier 2015, Stéphane Cueille a pris la direction de Safran Tech, le centre de Recherche et Technologie de Safran.

Why did Safran open its own R&T center?

The innovative products we're bringing to market today are the result of ideas that – for some of them at least – first came about in the early 90s. The LEAP, which replaces the CFM56, is probably the best example of this. Right now we're developing technology for 2025-2030, turning advances in scientific research today into the technology that will set the Group apart tomorrow. This is a strategic challenge, and to make sure we're always rising to it more effectively we decided to pool our cross-cutting skills into one R&T center: Safran Tech. It gives us one more card to play when it comes to meeting the big challenges of the future, like aircraft electrification, new propulsion architectures and digital devices and connected objects like sensors, networks and processing tools. These all draw on skills from across the Group's different companies. 

 

How does Safran Tech fit into the Group's R&T strategy?

The R&T center isn't intended for industrial projects, it's a strategic tool for innovation. It should inspire the rest of the Group to be creative. Its teams will be able to adopt a cross-cutting approach to their work, delving into Safran's various areas of expertise in close collaboration with our partners in academia and industry. One of the key points of this is that our teams, while cooperating with research labs, will be doing the R&T work themselves. This will give us access to an in-house source of extremely high technological expertise that will act like a bridge between our companies and the scientific research community. In doing this, we hope to achieve better output from our research efforts, and build more effective relationships with our academic partners. We're already seeing the results. 

Safran Tech is also a way of nurturing up-and-coming talent. It'll let young engineers and researchers give free reign to their imaginations in extremely specialized areas, all in a multi-disciplinary environment. It will be a real career booster for them. 

How do you intend to work with outside partners? 

We wanted the Paris-Saclay site to be a full ecosystem of collaborative research inside the wider, world-class ecosystem taking shape at Plateau de Saclay. Our site's geographic proximity with major educational institutions, research labs, R&T centers and other industry players should spark a frenzy of cross-fertilization between the different works taking place there. An excellent illustration of this is the two Mines-ParisTech labs setting up on our site in 2016. By sharing a site as part of a larger agreement on scientific cooperation, we will be able to forge closer bonds with a long-standing partner.To make Safran Tech a breeding ground for open innovation, we've also set up "innovation spaces" on the premises where we can receive our external partners and outside companies for short or long visits depending on the work being carried out. 

Safran Tech in figures

Over 20% of Safran Tech's workforce are from outside of France, 15% are PhD students and over 20% are women. Safran's Paris-Saclay site will host 1,500 people by 2016, including 300 Group researchers and engineers, teams from Aircelle and Safran Engineering Services, the Group's R&T and Innovation departments and outside partners.