Jan 23, 2023
LVMH drops plans to set up R&D centre near École Polytechnique campus in Saclay, Paris
Jan 23, 2023
Luxury group LVMH has abandoned plans to set up an R&D centre in the Saclay multi-disciplinary park (known as Saclay plateau) south-west of Paris, near the campus of the École Polytechnique university, which had approved the plans last November despite opposition from many students. The news was reported by École Polytechnique on Monday.
Contacted by AFP, LVMH said it will “continue with the research partnership” with the French engineering university, worth an estimated €2 million a year for five years, “but is looking at land outside the Saclay plateau as the location for its R&D centre.”
EP stated that “the work on sustainable materials, an integral part of the project aimed at creating a new interdisciplinary materials centre, will be implemented. Discussions on the other two research themes identified, big data and AI, as well as on life sciences, will also continue.”
In November, EP’s board of directors approved the sale of a parcel of land adjoining the university’s campus on the Saclay plateau to LVMH, which planned to set up an R&D centre there, a project opposed by both students and alumni of the X (as the EP is known as).
The decision was approved by a majority of 19 votes in favour, 4 against and one abstention.
The planned research centre, called LVMH Gaia, is expected to eventually host 300 researchers within an area of 22,500 cubic metres, according to the world’s number one luxury group, which intends to invest more than €100 million in the centre.
LVMH officially announced its plans for the Saclay plateau last July, but the project met with opposition from EP students and alumni, grouped together in a collective called “Polytechnique is not for sale!”.
In the statement issued on Monday, EP and the Institut Polytechnique de Paris indicated they will continue to “develop an innovation park designed to host R&D activities, starting with the ongoing planning application for a joint research building.”
A year ago, the TotalEnergies group had abandoned plans to set up its new R&D centre on another site also close to the EP campus, after teachers and students mobilised in opposition to the project.
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