Testimonial interview with Tarik Bourouina, teacher-researcher - Professor of physics and researcher at ESIEE Paris and at the ESYCOM laboratory (UMR9007) CNRS / Gustave Eiffel University - who shares his experience with Erganeo in the context of the creation of his start-up.
How did you get to know Erganeo?
From 2012 to 2015, I was Director of Research at ESIEE. So I followed the birth of the SATT at that time, its collaborations with our researchers and the projects that were monitored there. More recently, at the beginning of 2020, I attended SATT presentations at ESIEE and then at the ESYCOM laboratory. From there, with two of my students, we decided to embark on the adventure with Erganeo.
Tell us about this experience.
Everything was very quick and took place essentially during the confinement period. It all started from a desire to file a patent with Erganeo on the subject of microplastics in drinking water. By studying the market with Erganeo, we realized that the sector was very promising and the idea was submitted to us to create a start-up. That's when the Erganeo machine started up with great efficiency. With my two students, we were accompanied on a very regular basis to bring all aspects of our project to maturity.
The first part of the coaching was on intellectual property. Initially, we only had one patent in mind. Finally, we filed three in July.
The second part was the market pre-study in order to survey potential users of our project. The synthesis of this pre-study and interviews with industrial players confirmed the interest of what we were doing.
Finally, a complete investment file was put together, following which our project was presented at a meeting with Erganeo's investment committee in June; we then received a very favourable opinion allowing us to obtain financing for the proof of concept of our innovation over the next two years.
We have established a win-win partnership with Erganeo.
What was Erganeo's work with you?
Erganeo has been a huge support to us in every way. We were coached and supported in setting up the project and monitoring the progress of the investment file that had to be put together on time. We also met with a company specialized in prototyping, which will manufacture our first prototypes. The common convergence on the type of prototyping was fairly rapid (cost, deadlines, etc.), which was very reassuring. This connection thanks to Erganeo was very enriching and efficient, all at a phenomenal speed. I am all the more aware of the fact that I have already been involved in the creation of other start-ups in the past through my former students for about twenty years. At the time there was no support, everything was much longer and more laborious.
What experience did you gain from this?
All the aspects that researchers are not familiar with or simply not interested in are handled by Erganeo in a very professional manner. The researcher only has to deal with what he knows how to do best. If my past experience had already familiarized me with this, I am aware that most researchers do not appreciate the administrative, legal, economic, etc. aspects. I am thinking in particular of the formalization of the patent to give it every chance of being accepted - the market study to ensure its viability - the adjustment of the objective to best satisfy the potential client - the financing according to a balanced model - the financial support linked to the intellectual property.
For example, when we were putting together our investment file, Erganeo was very present and extremely efficient. I am completely satisfied with this, because when things move fast, we are also stimulated to move forward at the same speed. Now all we have to do is complete the proof of concept within the next two years. But I'm very serene.
What recommendations would you make to other researchers who would like to follow the same path?
If a researcher is tempted by the idea of setting up a company, I would tell him that in this kind of project, you shouldn't just focus on the technical side or on the idea, you have to see it through to the end. I will reassure him that Erganeo takes care of the aspects that the researcher does not particularly like.
However, the researcher has to immerse himself in all these aspects and take this support as a training, because one day the start-up will have to fly on its own wings in the long run. The constitution of a good team is another determining factor in the potential success of the adventure.