Lauriane Renaud: “In Strasbourg, we're lucky enough to get support”
What is MicroP?
5 years ago, just after I’d finished my physics degree, I went on a water management course in a company specialising in wastewater infrastructure.
It’s there that I got the somewhat broad-ranging idea for MicroP, which involved creating a specialist company for detecting micro-pollutants. I gradually changed the direction of my studies to focus on water, the environment and pollution and narrowed my project down to developing an immunological kit for detecting micro-pollutants. I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time in a laboratory, Biotech-Lab in Illkirch, so I could come up with a prototype, and this was a decisive step.
There have been a number of important steps in the course of your project, including the SEMIA prize in 2017 and the Grand Prix Pépite in 2018
That’s for sure!
Every region has its Pépite student entrepreneur centre, and I joined the local one here. I was then able to go on training courses and have the contacts I needed to work full-time on the project. In 2017 I won the SEMIA incubator prize for student entrepreneurs and in 2018 the Grand Prix Pépite, and this really was a springboard. Although I was only at the prototype phase, it gave me visibility on the national stage, which is crucial, especially at that point, when you need recognition. The subvention also acts as a booster, because if you want to get the prize money of €20,000, you have to create a suitable structure and become a company.
How can MicroP help businesses and public organisations?
There are already a number of powerful technologies for identifying substances within a sample, such as chromatography and mass spectrometry, which work very well. On the other hand, when it comes to micro-pollutants, these are tiny little molecules contained within a sample with a huge number of other molecules! MicroP means that for future quantifications, you can bypass what are, after all, pretty expensive technologies and thereby make substantial savings.
Can you tell us about the local ecosystem within your sector?
Strasbourg has an economic and cross-border dynamism, which was of great help to me. I have to admit that as a scientist, I didn’t understand much about business, but once you get into the ecosystem, you soon realise that it’s extremely dynamic – there are lots of networks, incubators, training courses and mechanisms and it’s all organised in silos. Managing your business is a job in itself and in Strasbourg, we’re lucky enough to get support, and to meet people we might well not come across in the university environment. When you’re a student, you need to have the perspectives other people can offer, both on the scientific side, and here François Bernier and Rozenn Ménard, the tutors for the Biology and Plant Valorisation Masters were really helpful, and also on the business side.