In Yvelines, a new agricultural school with a “start-up nation” version

It is a site of six hundred hectares in the heart of the regional park of the valley of Chevreuse, in Lévis-Saint-Nom, in the Yvelines. The inhabitants know it under the name of the domain of Boissière, and the whole is decorated with a castle. At the start of the next school year, a new kind of agricultural school will open its doors there.

Called Hectar, it should not go unnoticed. At the initiative of the project is Audrey Bourolleau, former advisor to Emmanuel Macron for agricultural issues at the Elysee Palace, and former general delegate of the Wine and Society lobby. She joined forces with entrepreneur Xavier Niel, founder of Free (and personal shareholder of World). In total, the pair invested 23.5 million euros to buy the domain (with a castle) and launch Hectar. Mme Bourolleau has 51% of the structure, and Xavier Niel, who invests his funds individually, 49%.

Hectar does not intend to position itself in the field of training establishments under the Ministry of Agriculture

“In the next three years, 160,000 farms will have to be taken over, because there will be no renewal of the peasant generation, no family takeover. The needs are pressing ”, justifies Audrey Bourolleau. Hectar does not intend to position itself in the field of training establishments under the Ministry of Agriculture, but rather to offer a “start-up nation” version. Its managing director, Francis Nappez, does not come from the earth world, but from that of tech – he worked for a long time as a senior executive at BlaBlaCar.

Read also These farmers who cultivate new technologies

No technical education, therefore, but additional courses to start a farm or business, all with the possibility of putting into practice: the campus includes an organic farm in transition, forests, mixed grain fields … “We are an accelerator for promoters of agricultural projects”, summarizes Audrey Bourolleau. It is therefore a kind of management school dedicated to future peasants, which will train them in the economics of a farm, in the diversification of sources of income, in the applications of artificial intelligence in resource management.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also High-tech techniques used by agronomists to prepare agriculture for climate change

Connected greenhouses, weeding robots …

The goal is to train two thousand people per year. The courses are divided into several formats: a short and free program, largely online, lasting five weeks; a six-month work-study program for future agricultural entrepreneurs; another, to the retraining of agricultural workers, financed by Pôle emploi. Another program, also free, is fully booked for the start of the school year: it is a one-year training course, in partnership with the IT school 42 (co-founded by Xaviel Niel), specializing in data and technology. artificial intelligence applied to the agricultural world. Students will be required to manage connected greenhouses, “Vertical and intelligent farms”, develop weeding robots, etc. From 2022, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) will run the incubator. “We will welcome fifty start-ups”, promises Mme Bourolleau.

You have 55.09% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.