Occitanie: discover the seven projects awarded by the Les Inn’Ovations competition

Occitanie: discover the seven projects awarded by the Les Inn’Ovations competition
David Andreu, David Guiraud and Serge Renaux created Neurinnov in 2018 in Montpellier (©Montpellier Entreprendre)

The Inn’Ovations regional competition reward every year the seven most innovative projects in Occitanie. Organized by the AD’OCC agency for the Occitanie Regionit is financed by the latter and private partners: BNP Paribas, EDF and Enedis.

42nd ceremony

Each year, the Les Inn’Ovations regional competition rewards innovative projects in all sectors of activity. It aims to encourage innovation, promote project leaders, promote innovative products, processes or services offered by companies in Occitania and above all shed light on the most beautiful regional nuggets. The competition thus offers the winners, in addition to a financial allocation of €25,000 each, increased visibility and the unique opportunity to accelerate their development.

The 42nd Awards Ceremony of the Les Inn’Ovations competition in the presence of Jalil Benabdillah, Vice-President of the Occitanie Region, in charge of economic development, innovation, research and higher education and Deputy President of the AD’OCC agency , took place on Monday 30 January. Here are the seven winning projects.

Prix « Innovation & International » : Apisolis

Steam instead of combustion fumes. Installed at Saint-Jory in Haute-Garonne, Apisolis created a vaporizerthe purpose of which is to replace the smoker traditionally used beekeepers to calm the beesduring their interventions in the hives.

Damien Albrespy, beekeeper for 15 years, created Apisolis in 2018. “When I worked on apiaries, the smoker gave me very strong headaches”, he says. Its vaporizer therefore uses propylene glycol, used in electronic cigarettes, to produce smoke-like vapor.

Several patents protect its successful innovation. Present in 17 countries, the start-up now wishes to consolidate its markets in Europe and set out to conquer North America, from the subsidiary it has set up in New York. Objective within five years: to equip two million beekeepers.

“Products or services of the future” prize and grand prize: Neurinnov

Restoring autonomy to people with quadriplegia: this is the challenge Neurinnov. Based in Aires and in Montpellier (Hérault)this spin-off from the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) and the University of Montpellier is developing a new generation implantable medical deviceaiming to restore partial use of their hands notably through voice commands. Led in partnership with the Saint-Jean clinic (Saint-Jean-de-Védas, Hérault) and the Bouffard-Vercelli Center (Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales), this project called Agilis consists of a clinical investigation using electrodes implanted on three nerves (the radial, the median and the ulnar), in order to determine which muscles of the forearm react to the impulses sent.

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Protected by six patents, the technology has already demonstrated its relevance and was the subject of a publication in the English journal Nature Scientifics Reports on October 6, 2022. The pivotal or clinical trial will be launched in 2025. CE marking, essential for the launch of the marketing, is expected in 2027. To finance the project, Neurinnov raised €3 million at the end of 2021 from Irdi Capital Investissement, the Pertinence Invest fund as well as Sofilaro and this envelope was supplemented by non-dilutive financing of the same amount. In addition, the company obtained European funding of €2.9 million as part of the very selective EIC Pathfinder call for projects, intended to support projects likely to lead to breakthrough innovations. The technology developed by Neurinnov can indeed be applied to other clinical indications, the reactivation of urination (the bladder) such as that of the foot elevator in particular.

“Innovation & Sustainable and Responsible Food” Prize: Asclepios Tech

Technology Boxilumix developed by the Toulouse start-up Asclepios, based in Tournefeuilleputs photobiology at the service of sustainable food. Modulated light signalsproduced by LEDs at different wavelengths, improve the nutritional qualities and extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. “Plants will analyze and process the signals they receive. They are the ones that will stimulate the production of nutrients and strengthen the natural defenses of fruits and vegetables”, explains Christine Roynette, CEO of Asclepios Tech, a graduate of Centrale Supelec. The solution takes the form of intelligent processing units, assembled according to the operations to be carried out in cultivation or post-harvest.

Labeled by the Solar Impulse foundation of Bertrand Piccard, Asclepios Tech was also selected in July 2022 by the French Tech Agri20 program which aims “to support, within the agricultural and food sectors, start-ups with the greatest potential to make emerging technological champions”. After engaging in a service activity around its technology, in particular with Pink Lady Europe and Les Laboratoires Pierre Fabre, the young company launched the marketing of its products incorporating Boxilumix. Its five-year goal is to “become number one in photobiology treatments in Europe”.

“Start-up of the year” award: Acusurgical

Acusurgical created a robot intended to help ophthalmic surgeons in their complex procedures : DLMA, macular holes, retinal tear, diabetic retinopathy… “The structures on which the surgeons intervene being thinner than a hair, our robot will provide them with precision twenty times greater than that of the hand”, explains Christoph Spuhler, the CEO of the start-up created in 2020 in Montpellier.

To develop his robot, this former member of the Montpellier company Medtech received support from SATT AxLR and help from the Computing, Robotics and Microelectronics Laboratory of Montpellier. Then, in 2021, Acusurgical completed a fundraising of €5.75 million to move on to the next stage, that of testing in particular. Conducted with Mérieux Equity Partners, Supernova Invest, Sofimac Innovation and Irdi Capital Investissement, this operation has already made it possible to launch pre-clinical trials, which are currently underway. In 2023, clinical trials will follow, then CE marking, which is essential to launch marketing. To date, five patents have already been filed.

“Innovation & Territories” Prize: Tracto-Lock

Tracto-Lock Company Created a semi-automatic universal coupling system, made up of two frames: one, male, adapting to all tractors without modification, and the other, female, to the tools that attach to it. If, for the moment, the system is limited to mounted tools (ploughs, seeders, mulchers, etc.), an interface is being developed to extend its capabilities to trailed and semi-mounted tools (trailers, baler, etc.). Finally, it can be controlled from the tractor cabin, by remote control. Four international patents have been filed. This solution offers time savings, working comfort and safety, coupling operations being among the most accident-prone in the farming profession. The marketing of the interface for mounted tools will start at the beginning of 2023.

Tracto-Lock targets the French market as much as the international one. “Our solution has no equivalent”, argues Quentin Derouck, sales manager of the Aude company, based in Saint-Papoul, near Castelnaudary. Thirty million tractors are in circulation in the world and the new market alone represents nearly two million sales per year, all countries combined. A considerable potential that Tracto-Lock is targeting, whose objective is within five years “to equip 100% of new tractors and 25% of those sold on the second-hand market”.

“Innovation & Ecological Transition” Prize: Cactile

Installed in the IMT Albi incubator, Cactile has patented a system of multifunctional tiles, capable in particular of collecting, storing and distributing rainwater, but also of producing solar energy or greening buildings. Entirely eco-designed, this tile is composed of a receptacle which ensures the building’s water proofing function and can accommodate a tank to store rainwater. The assembly is masked by a cover or a photovoltaic panel. The tank can also be replaced by a support making it possible to vegetate the surface concerned. Less than 10 cm thick, it is laid instead of clay tiles, without increasing the load supported by the framework.

“We are working to ensure that the tile is installed on most buildings, new or old, and is fully integrated into the challenges of urban renewal. By optimizing the use of natural resources such as water, sun and vegetation, we want to put roofs at the service of adaptation to climate change”, explains Jean-Baptiste Landes, the president of the start-up. Roofs represent up to 35% of the surface of a city and, each year, 40 million m2 clay roof tiles are sold in France alone. Targeting, initially, the clientele of architects, real estate developers and social landlords, as well as communities, Cactile will launch the marketing of its offer in 2025.

Jury favorite: Corrohm

In partnership with researchers from the University of Toulouse (INSA Toulouse, INP Toulouse, Paul Sabatier University), the start-up based in Labège in Haute-Garonne develops a biogalvanic cathodic protection solution aiming to preserve reinforced concrete offshore structures exposed to corrosion.

Competing with sacrificial and impressed current protection technologies, its solution is patent pending. It does not use sacrificial metal or electric generator, but it uses bacteria working in marine sediments. Important players in the chemistry of the oceans, these electro-active micro-organisms produce clean electricity collected by electrodes placed in the sediments. This natural electric current is transmitted to the work to be treated by means of a connection cable connecting the carbon electrodes and the steel reinforcements of the concrete. It is the action of this current that preserves the structure from corrosion.

“Our process differs from other technologies, by preserving the environment, it is natural and renewable. It does not release potentially harmful products for the natural environment like those used in sacrificial protection. Contrary to traditional solutions, our device is autonomous and does not require any connection to the power supply network”, insists Stéphane Panin, President of Corrohm. Conducted in the laboratory, several tests validated the feasibility of the process. Also, new stages, Corrohm is preparing the launch of a life-size experiment in an oyster farm in La Rochelle and it is planning internationally. Since its market is global, the young company initially plans to expand into North America and is studying a possible increase in its capital in order to finance its research projects.

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