Published on 8 December 2017
Image courtesy of Genopole © 2017 Lionel Antoni

Genopole, France’s leading biocluster, provides support to young innovators in the food, agriculture and industrial sectors. The seventh edition of the Young Biotech Award featured five finalists with some seriously forward-thinking ideas and products.

On December 7, 2017, Genopole’s Director General, Jean-Marc Grognet, welcomed the crowd and discussed the importance of the award program as a way of recognizing the work of young innovators in biotech who are focused on areas outside of the health and medical sector. Marianne Duranton, President of Genopole and regional councillor of îlle de France (Paris region), talked about the value of having everyone in the biotech community come together as much more than just Paris’ downtown core. She is optimistic about the future as she explained that the region may soon be seen as a model to others, not just for outstanding innovation, but also for its focus on environmental responsibility. On that note, Pierre Nougué, business leader and serial entrepreneur, carried on with the theme of social and ecological responsibility as the guest speaker for the evening. He believes that a blend of France’s strength in traditional artisanship and the fresh ideas of today’s young innovators will unite the country and make it stronger economically, socially, and ecologically.

After a brief discussion and question and answer period, it was time to hear from the five finalists of the competition who delighted the audience with a three-minute pitch detailing their innovation. Here they are in a nutshell:

True Spirit, presented by Hugo Grardel, could help wine makers in France and around the globe improve the way they test their products. The innovative technology provides a faster and much less expensive way to test the composition of wine and other products such as: beer, spirit, olive oil, and honey. The young leaders of this company are graduates of Université Paris-Saclay member, L’Institut d’optique Graduate School who continues to support their work.

Nour Ackbary from Les Nouveaux Affineurs showed the audience the results of their work from the Université Paris-Saclay community at their lab at L'Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA). Believe it or not, these young innovators blended artisanal tradition with biotech innovation to make 100% plant-based (vegan) cheese. It could have a big impact on the environment and your taste buds!

Two engineers, Poala Ceccato and Chloé Blanc at OÏKOS Sphère, are developing a novel and more natural way of fertilizing crops based on local vegetation. Their method could allow farmers to use leftovers of their crops to produce their own fertilizer and either use it themselves or sell it to others.

Franck Pradier from Alkinnov shared the way their team is making better and more natural versions of things like sweeteners and food preservatives by using genetic stimulation as opposed to genetic modification of plants.

Edwin Grappin from Screen Seed that is also supported by INRA, explained how their technology can evaluate the efficacy of molecules that have been developed to help seeds grow by monitoring them in real time.

Shortly after the pitches, the results from the competition were officially announced:

First place and winner of a comprehensive prize valued at 100,000 including cash, office space, consulting services and more: True Spirit

Second place and winners of special prizes valued at 50,000 €: OÏKOS Sphère and Les Nouveaux Affineurs

Université Paris-Saclay is proud to support the innovative work being done by the community! Congratulations to all the winners and participants of this year’s Genopole contest. For more information on the Genopole biocluster and their contest please visit: