Hervé Lebret


Biography and current work


As the manager of the Innogrants, I help academic entrepreneurs to develop their initial start-up idea. I fund their project and help them in developing it through the rich innovation ecosystem around EPFL. I also organize events dedicated to innovation (ventureideas, forum de l'innovation).

In early 2010, I have been appointed Senior Scientist (MER) with the College of Management of Technology (CDM). I teach Entrepreneurship as well as Optimal Decision Analysis. In 2007, I published "Start-Up: what we may still learn from Silicon Valley" and you can follow my related blog "Start-up: The Book". Since that publication I have been working on the analysis of companies out of Stanford University.

Since 2005, about 80 INNOGRANTS have been funded and more than 50 companies created, which have additionnally raised more than 100M CHF. During the year 2004, in my prior role at EPFL, I could also directly help in a start-up creation, NEXThink, which develops an EPFL technology.

The venture ideas conferences have been organized since 2005 and the Forum de l'Innovation since 2006. Some useful information can also be found in the section "ressources" of the Innogrants page.


I graduated from Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France) in 1987, SupAero (Toulouse, France) in 1989 and obtained an MS from Stanford University in 1990. I worked for the French department of defense for two years and went back to academics to obtain my PhD in electrical engineering from Université de Rennes in 1994 (with one year spent at Stanford University again) I stayed in academics from 1994 to 1997 as dean of studies of the ENSTA (Paris, France) and at Onera (Palaiseau, France). In 1997, I left the academic world to begin a new career in venture capital with Index Ventures in Geneva, Switzerland. I left Index to work at EPFL in 2004 as a licensing officer in the Technology Transfer Office. In mid-2005, I helped in launching and took charge of the INNOGRANTS. In 2010, I became a Senior Scientist in the field of high-tech entrepreneurship and my research field concentrates on academic spin-offs, including Stanford University and Silicon Valley.

My past venture capital activity

As a venture capitalist from 1997 to 2003 with Index Ventures, I have been studying the full spectrum on information and communications technologies, from semiconductor design to hardware and telecom components and systems as well as software tools, applications and services. I have invested mostly in early stage technology start-ups based in Europe, Israel and the United States. Here are a few examples of the companies I have been involved with and for a few with which I am still involved:
- Virata developed DSL chips, went public on Nasdaq in 1999 (and later merged with GlobeSpan and later Conexant). Based in Cambridge, UK.
- Numerical Technologies developed software for subwavelength design of semiconductors and went public on Nasdaq in 2000 (before being acquired by Synopsys in 2003). Based in San Jose, California.
- ArrayComm develops wireless telecom systems based on smart antennas. Based in San Jose, California.
- LaserComm developed optical components and failed after the telecom crisis in 2001-2002. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel and Plano, Texas.
- BeamExpress develops optical transceivers based on VCSEL technology. Spin-off from EPFL and based in Lausanne, Switzerland and Sunnyvale, California.
- Pulsic develops software for the design of semiconductors (EDA). Based in Bristol, UK.
- Kimotion Technologies develops software for the design of semiconductors (EDA). Based in Leuven, Belgium.
- Innovative Silicon develops semiconductor technologies. Spin-off from EPFL and based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

My past research activity

My research activity began in 1992 and finished in 1997. I focused on applications of convex optimization and in particular of interior point methods in engineering as shown by the list of my publications. I also taught at ENSTA between 1993 and 1997, mostly in system identification and control and published a book on the course I gave. As you may notice from my publications, I owe many things to the following professors:
- Stephen Boyd from Stanford University
- Laurent El Ghaoui from UC Berkeley
- Lieven Vandenverghe from UCLA

Since 2010 I do part-time research on entrepreneurship and academic spin-offs. Check my publication page.

Hervé Lebret

Manager of Innogrants

Nationality : France

Fields of Expertise

  • Support to Innovation, technology transfer, venture capital, information technology and also applied mathematics (optimization) applied to engineering.