BREST // Every Thursday night, college students flood the bars of this French university town and port for a final toast before returning to their family homes for the weekend.
The regional government has turned what could have been a weekly irritation for residents into a source of income and innovation for its people.
Brittany, the area in which Brest is situated, has marketed the expertise from its academic institutions to companies.
Quiet roads far from the clogged traffic of Paris makethis an attractive place to set up research and development centres. Those students? Cheap researchers.
"The goal is to create a competitive maritime economy," says Stéphane Alain Riou, the deputy director of Brittany's Pôle Mer, a business innovation cluster that brings together academics and businesses. "Our job is the beginning of a story."
The companies attracted to the region, such as the state-owned DCNS and the energy company EDF - are mainly interested in Brittany's speciality: marine technology such as offshore oil drilling components and turbines that produce energy from wave power.
In the quest to create technologies, developers can test their products in special pools that simulate tidal forces, and containers that can develop the same pressures as would be found at 10,000 metres underwater - nearly the depth of the deepest point on Earth, which is in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.
Surrounding the innovation hub are institutions such as IRENav, the French navy school, and Cetmef, a French institute best known for its studies of rising sea levels.
A total of about €400 million (Dh2.08 billion) has been invested so far in research and development, including €105m from the national and regional governments.
In addition, the glittering coastline provides a real-life testing ground for biotechnology farms and maritime safety specialists.
Pôle Mer Bretagne's model - universities plus companies equals marketable ideas - is the same that drives Masdar City, the carbon-neutral development Abu Dhabi is building.
A Masdar-owned university, a free zone catering to small and medium enterprises and the innovation centres of multinational conglomerates such as General Electric and Siemens are all part of a plan to make Abu Dhabi a source for invention and development.
Just as the French cluster focuses on its geographical advantage, so Masdar City is working on solar panels, efficient building materials and geothermal systems - resulting in a whole crop of innovations grown in the desert.