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Three startups, InBolt, Néolithe and Omini, win 2019 Jean-Louis Gerondeau- Safran award


The Jean-Louis Gerondeau-Safran award for 2019, announced today, was shared by three startups: InBolt, Néolithe and Omini. The winners of this 9th edition were recognized for their innovative solutions in manufacturing, waste treatment and healthcare. Each winner receives a prize of 20,000 euros.

The Jean-Louis Gerondeau-Safran award is designed to facilitate the emergence or further development of innovative projects developed by teams from the prestigious École Polytechnique engineering school’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It was named after Jean-Louis Gerondeau, class of 1962, to support innovation and entrepreneurship at the school. Furthermore, it reflects Polytechnique’s strategy, designed to nurture students’ initiatives in business creation, and especially in high-technology fields.

Candidates’ projects are evaluated in terms of the innovative nature of the product or service being offered, its economic potential and its ability to result in the creation of a company. The award includes a total prize of 60,000 euros, to be divided among no more than three projects.

According to Grégoire Aladjidi, Safran Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A, “The need for technology-driven innovation now irrigates all sectors. This year we can see it in terms of the ecological transition, the ‘Factory of the Future’ and medical technologies (MedTech). Safran is delighted to support the Jean-Louis Gerondeau award, which reflects the dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem at Polytechnique. We have to create links between all players, because these startups need access to the networks, factories and the experience of large corporations.”

InBolt: a position-tracking technology for industrial tools, enabling real-time quality control. Project developed by Rudy Cohen, Albane Dersy and Louis Dumas (all three students in a Polytechnique-HEC Entrepreneurs master’s program).

Industrial processes such as manual crimping, drilling and riveting are currently untraceable, and barely digitized. It is in effect impossible to continuously monitor what happens between the moment when a task is assigned to a technician and when it is actually performed. To improve the reliability and traceability of these processes, InBolt has developed a position tracking technology for industrial tools (torque wrenches, screwdrivers, drills, etc.). It comprises a hardware module with sensors that are installed on the tool and communicate with quality control software that has interfaces for both the operator and manager. By tracking the tool’s position in real time, it’s possible to check if a task is correctly performed or not. This startup, which is mainly targeting the aerospace industry, is now working on miniaturizing and producing this module – it has already signed partnerships with ArianeGroup and Thales. InBolt received support from engineers in the prototyping space in the entrepreneurial center Drahi – X - Novation Center, École Polytechnique, to develop the first prototypes.

“We are very proud to have won the Jean-Louis Gerondeau award. It really validates our project, all the more so because jury members were experts in our target sector. The prize money will provide a real springboard to fund the further development of our solution and expand our team.” Rudy Cohen

Néolithe: a process to transform non-recyclable household waste into mineral granulates that could be used in construction. Project developed by Nicolas Cruaud (class of 2016), William Cruaud Sr, William Cruaud Jr (Compiègne University of Technology) and Clément Bénassy (AgroParisTech).

Operating within X-UP, the École Polytechnique’s incubator, Néolithe is developing a technology to convert non-recyclable household waste (fabrics, plastics, food waste, etc.) into mineral granulates that could be used in the construction and public works sector, especially for roadbeds, as well as with a potential application in cement. Ecological by definition, the patented process, which is based on the fossilization of waste, means we don’t have to incinerate or bury the waste, thus reducing the traditional CO2 emissions of these processes by 80%. If applied across France, it could reduce carbon impact by 5%, and would cost no more than current processes. Founded in January 2019, this family owned startup has installed a pilot production line to test the process at industrial scale, along with their business model. It is also developing “transportable factories in a container”, which should be ready for delivery in March 2020.

“In addition to the prize money, which will enable us to fund R&D and production engineering before our solution hits the market, this award enhances our credibility. At the same time, it boosts our confidence, especially when you look at the career paths of the entrepreneurs who preceded us. I hope we’re as successful as they were!” Nicolas Cruaud, class of 2016

Omini: portable screening and diagnostic devices to improve medical decision-making. Project developed by Joanne Kanaan (École normale supérieure - PSL) and Anna Shirinskaya (Physics Laboratory - Interfaces and Thin layers, - CNRS/École Polytechnique), currently under development at the X-TECH Booster lab in the entrepreneurial center of École Polytechnique.

Biology exams are indispensable when doctors make decisions. However, receiving the results may take a few hours, or even a few days, leading to a compromise between the speed of the diagnosis, the urgent need to start treatment, and the accuracy of the medical decision. To avoid this compromise, Omini is developing portable screening and diagnosis devices that will be able to immediately measure the bio-markers needed to make an informed medical decision. For instance, the startup is developing a new generation of biosensors capable of quantitatively measuring various molecules in a liquid medium, based on a minimal sample size. Omini is also developing an initial prototype of an electronic reader that will process the signals from the sensors, so that results can be displayed and transmitted. Over the longer term, it aims to deliver different types of devices for doctors, as well as for patients with chronic illnesses requiring regular monitoring.

“We are delighted to win the Jean-Louis Gerondeau-Safran award, and the money that comes with it will be especially useful. In particular, it will help us cover our operating expenses, as well as fees for patent filings, and also buy the products needed to carry out our tests.” Joanne Kanaan and Anna Shririnskaya.

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Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aircraft propulsion and equipment, space and defense markets. Safran has a global presence, with more than 95,000 employees and sales of 21 billion euros in 2018. Working alone or in partnership, Safran holds world or European leadership positions in its core markets. Safran undertakes Research & Development programs to meet fast-changing market requirements, with total R&D expenditures of around 1.5 billion euros in 2018.

Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, and is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices.

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