« Creating a Virtual Reality Innovation Pole in the region »

Institut Image

The Chalon-sur-Saône Institute, also called « Image Institute », is a major actor in the digital transition of companies in the region.  Partnerships with industry and the region will be reinforced thanks to the renovation of an historic old mill which will house the Virtual Reality  Innovation Pole.

In the Chalon-sur-Saône Institute, the birthplace of photography, the culture of the image of yesterday and tomorrow is strong. The Image Institute was created in 1997 at the beginning of virtual reality, under the impetus of Dominique Perben, former Mayor of the city. Specializing in virtual reality for digital engineering in industry, it is today at the forefront of technological research for engineering sciences.

The Institite is equipped with the latest equipment, such as a virtual immersion room, funded through support from the region, the town and UIMM (the Mettalurgy industry federation). « It is the same equipment as in Airbus or Renault » says the director, Frederic Merienne. It is therefore not surprising that the Institute has a strong international reach, with foreign professor and researcher exchanges as well as welcoming many foreign students from Colombia, Malaysia, Australia…..

Rooted in local heritage, the institute has quickly become a socio economic actor providing services to companies in the territory.  The institute stated working with major companies such as Renault, with whom the institute created a shared laboratory 12 years ago. But since the democratisation of virtual reality in the early 2000’s, the laboratory is now working with more and more SME’s. Frédéric Merienne, Director of the Image Institute says that there is now a good balance between upstream work with large groups on developed technologies and the transfer of technology to SMEs

For example, the Institute works  on the OVNI-PMI  project co-funded by the UIMM ( mettalurgy federation), and federating 5 SMEs in the region where the objective is to develop technological demonstrations in virtual reality and transfer them to the industrial world.
Among other examples, Alfa Laval, a company that builds massive heat exchangers that are exported  worldwide, needs connected augmented reality to assist remote operators in the installation and maintenance of its systems.

« We are developing many projects in the region," says Frédéric Merienne, used by local industries. For Verallia, for example, one of our engineers has created a cirtual reality control station to train operators in alert and risk situations for its industrial furnaces. »


Heritage and innovation will still be linked with the new development project, planned for the 2021 in former industrial buildings.

The oldest mill in Chalon, erected in 1825, will be rehabilitated and enlarged with the funding of the region and the Grand Chalon. It will host the « Institut image » (education, lab, technological platform), the pedagogical sector in digital engineering, Nicéphore Cité, the digital transition pole of Chalon companies, as well as an incubator. The first stone will be laid in November 2019.

école nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers
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