Members of the Van Allen Foundation

Founder members

Partner Foundation

Created by :

  • Montpellier University
  • and industrialists from the space industry

Montpellier University

6th French university

Philippe AUGE, President :
“The Foundation is an indispensable networking tool, drawing together the University and the key industrial players. It pilots the 1st French University Space Centre and gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to the projects.”

3D Plus

World leader in 3D electronic components for space

Pierre MAURICE, CEO  :
“The creation of this Foundation specialised in nanosatellites, combined with the team’s dynamism, convinced us to take part in the scheme”

AIRBUS Defence & Space

The world’s second largest space company

Bruno LE STRADIC, Head of products and engineering :
“Becoming a founder member extends our existing partnership with Montpellier University and demonstrates the strong commitment of Airbus Defence & Space to supporting innovative academic initiatives and promoting positive exchanges.”

LATECOERE Interconnection Systems Branch

Wolrd-class leader in interconnection systems for aeronautics ans space( 1st for avionics racks, 2nd for electrical harnesses, 1st in Europe for satellite wriring)

Denis BRETAGNOLLE, President :
“A win-win initiative: first, supporting and working alongside the teaching faculty and students in their innovative projects in the field of nanosatellites, and second, developing synergies through shared resources and expertise to harness innovation that develops our offer and consolidates our position as a major industrial player in the space industry.”


A recognized worlwide player in testability solutions and critical systems continuous improvement paving the way of predictive solutions

Christian DABASSE, CEO of the SPHEREA Group :
“SPHEREA functions like a hive to stay reactive and close to the markets, and to adapt to technological developments. Maintaining the network of skills developed by Van Allen allows us to unite our greatest strengths to reflect on and support the critical systems of tomorrow in new and different ways.”

ZODIAC DATA SYSTEMS (Groupe Zodiac Aerospace)

Global spécialist in high-tech space and aeronautical systems including communications telemetry and instrumentation

Jean-Marie BETERMIER, President :
“ZDS are committed to University – Business partnerships. Training young people is a real challenge in our sector, and it’s important to support this novel initiative that provides a framework for productive and profitable exchanges for all of us. What we appreciate most about the Foundation’s initiative is the pragmatism and engagement of all the players.”

Well-known figures on the Board of Directors: a strategy defined by experts

A Word from the President

“Nanosatellites have opened up a new space era where space engines are conceived and designed differently. Space has become accessible: first, to students, trained in the field, and second, to new industrialists, even those who are not from the space sector and who never thought about it. The Van Allen Foundation was created to draw together all the players, thereby demonstrating that such projects enable Montpellier University to supply skilled human resources, and that young students can learn excellence at university. Our ambition is to make Montpellier University Space Centre an international benchmark centre for nanosatellites.”  Michel COURTOIS, President oh the Van Allen Fondation

The Van Allen Foundation’s Board of Directors includes leading personalities from the top echelons of the international space sector who determine its nanosatellite development strategy.

  • Michel COURTOIS, President of the Van Allen Fondation, Former Director of CNES Toulouse and ESA/ESTEC, Member of the Technologies Academy
  • Jean-Jacques DORDAIN, Former Director of ESA
  • Charles ELACHI, Director of JPL/NASA (that sent the Curiosity robot to Mars)
  • Jean-Claude GAYSSOT, President of the Van Allen Foundation Campaign Committee, Former Minister
  • Thierry LEVEUGLE, Président de ThiReX Engineering
  • Franco ONGARO, Director of the ESA/ESTEC (European Space Agency)
  • Marc PIRCHER, Director of CNES Toulouse, Member of the Technologies Academy
  • Michel TOGNINI, French astronaut, Former Director of the ESA Astronauts Centre

Ambassadors / Fundraising Campaign Committee

A Word from the President

The Van Allen Foundation needs the support of all us – entrepreneurs, decision-makers, opinion leaders, scientific experts – who like myself are committed to building a future for young people. A new French nanosatellite sector is up and running, providing new economic and job opportunities. The leading space agencies, industrial leaders and others have their eyes on France and Montpellier. We have to support this initiative together. Like us, give your support to the Van Allen Foundation.” Jean-Claude GAYSSOT, President of the Van Allen Foundation Fundraising Campaign Committee.

  • Jean-Claude GAYSSOT, President of the Van Allen Foundation Campaign Committee, Former Minister
  • Bernard BIGOT, CEO, ITER
  • Anne BONDIOU-CLERGERIE, Director “Affaires R&D, Espace et Environnement”, GIFAS
  • Christophe CARNIEL, PDG de VoGo, President of LR Transfers
  • Jean-Paul HERTEMAN, Former CEO, Safran Group
  • Daniel KUNTH, Director of Recherche CNRS, Astrophysicist
  • Hubert REEVES, Astrophysicist

Members of the Partners Club of the Van Allen Foundation

Partners Club

The Van Allen Foundation has created its own Partners Club, giving companies the opportunity to be part of an information and discussion network and support the nanosatellites of the 1st French University Space Centre. Businesses can join by sponsoring us (tax deductible), the fee is proportional to their turnover.


MAGELLIUM has recognised expertise in the field of software engineering and geographical information systems, digital geography, solutions for geographical data production, signal and image processing, and more. MAGELLIUM’s expertise was further strengthened when it became part of the Artal Group in 2016: with 300 top-level engineers, this alliance (between a geo-information and imaging expert and an industrial systems software specialist) transformed it into an ISE operating in the fields of image and sensitive data processing and systems engineering on behalf of the aeronautics, defence, space, energy and the environment sectors.  More information +


OCEASOFT is a global leader in smart, connected sensors for the life sciences and food processing industries as well as the environment (Industrial Internet of Things). By mastering three areas of expertise: sensors and calibration, wireless transmission and software platform development, the firm offers a comprehensive and verticalised service, ranging from sensors to fitting them in information systems. More information +


OMICRON has been developing and manufacturing electronic cards and systems since 1982.It specialises in manufacturing, from prototypes to mass production. OMICRON is an industrial partner drawing on a high-quality outsourcing service in electronics, cabling, CmS and EmS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) for the most demanding sectors (medical, nuclear, and military, etc.). More information +


SODERN has been developing its expertise in cutting edge technology for over fifty years.The company is world renowned for its attitude sensors (star trackers and rendez-vous sensors, etc.), its high-tech space instruments (such as focal planes, cameras and seismometers), detection and analysis systems using neutron sources and its neutron instrumentation systems. SODERN pursues and policy of constant innovation to best meet the needs of its clients on a permanent basis. More information +


SODITECH is an SME specialising in the integration of mechanical, thermal and electronic subassemblies for the space, research and defence sectors. For more than 25 years, SODITECH has offered leading industrial companies a full range of project management services, from the specification stage to integration. More information +

An operational team

A “nano” team

Like the nanosatellites themselves, the team is small but very dynamic and ready to take on new challenges every day. 

  • Pr. Frédéric SAIGNE, Directeur
  • Isabelle LAGRACIE, Directrice développement & mécénat /  E-mail ici  / Tél :
  • Julia FABJANCZYK, Chargée d’affaires mécénat / E-mail ici  /  Tél :
  • Nathalie BENSADON, Chargée de communication /  Email ici  / Tél :
  • Caroline REYNAUD, Comptable et assistante de direction /  Email ici  /  Tél :

Supporting institutions

  • Europe
  • OCCITANIE Pyrénées – Méditerranée Regional Council
  • CNES : Centre National d’Études Spatiales (National Centre for Space Study programmes – the French space agency)
  • ESA : European Space Agency