The Institute for Futures Technologies (IFT) is a new space within the Pôle Léonard de Vinci in Paris (La Défense), which aims to bring the MIT Media Lab’s visionary, transdisciplinary research culture to French higher education. IFT consists of three branches: De Vinci Innovation Center (DVIC), the research and academic branch; De Vinci StartUp, the entrepreneurship branch; and De Vinci Fab Lab, the technological infrastructure.
De Vinci Innovation Center (DVIC) was founded in 2019 as an educational experiment led by Media Lab alum Dr. Clément Duhart (Responsive Environments). DVIC was created to allow students to engage in hands-on projects related to emerging technologies. Since its inception, DVIC has expanded to include two more research groups led by Media Lab alumni Dr. Marc Teyssier (Fluid Interfaces) and Dr. Xiao Xiao (Tangible Media).
De Vinci Startup (DVSU) run by Laure Dousset (MIT Game Lab), provides a minor in entrepreneurship and a startup studio to incubate student startups. De Vinci Fab Lab supports technical student associations and offers a comprehensive course in digital fabrication as a certified Fab Academy node. It is run by research engineers Fabien Caura and Jonah Marrs (MIT MArch).
Several activities organized by IFT are geared towards establishing connections between French higher education and the MIT Media Lab and wider MIT community. One such initiative is the Instant Futures talks, a monthly series of talks featuring researchers and practitioners, particularly alumni of MIT and the Media Lab. The talk series has hosted a number of distinguished speakers including Arthur Petron (Biomechatronics), Rébecca Kleinberger (Opera of the Future), Mihir Sarkar (Music, Mind and Machines), Peter Godart (MIT MechE), and Baudouin Saintyves (MIT MechE).
IFT has also implemented an the artist in residence program. In the first iteration of the program, Media Lab alumni Gershon Dublon (Responsive Environments) and Xin Liu (Fluid Interfaces) were invited to work closely with DVIC students on a project called "The Wandering Mind." Currently, IFT is actively collaborating with former Labber Maggie Coblentz (MIT Space Exploration Initiative) on a project to be deployed in the Arctic.
On March 9, 2023, IFT celebrated its launch with a press conference, a research conference, and an evening of interactive arts performances.
The research conference, titled "Inspiring Futures in the Footsteps of Leonardo Da Vinci," featured keynote talks from three Media Lab professors: Joe Paradiso, Pattie Maes, and Hiroshi Ishii, each of whom mentored one of the IFT group faculty members. It was moderated by Marc Teyssier and was open to the public.
Later in the evening, the festivities began with a presentation of IFT's activities, followed by the launch of a digital artwork created specifically for the occasion. Additionally, there were two performances: Shapes of Emergence by Baudouin Saintyves and The Wandering Mind by Gershon Dublon. Both performances were accompanied by Roiel Benitez and Valentin Martinez on electronic instruments, and Xiao Xiao on the theremin.