The specialist in smart pigments, Olikrom inaugurated Tuesday evening in Pessac, near Bordeaux, a pilot unit. This new asset will allow the start-up company to remove the last barriers before massive industrialization of its turnkey solutions.
The date was not chosen at random. When he went on stage Tuesday night, Jean-François Létard, founder of Olikrom, immediately stressed that a few hours later, his startup would blow his 4th candle. The company has been using a long-time laboratory breakthrough technology for nearly 17 years, which has resulted in chiseled technology transfer. Olikrom designs and produces smart pigments for its partners. When incorporated into inks, paints or masterbatch, they are able to change color according to the temperature, the pressure, the presence of a gas … this reversibly or not. Profitable since its beginnings in 2014, Olikrom works for many clients. Jean-François Létard said, smiling:
“We work for aeronautics, security, the automotive, industry, army… Our positioning is crazy: we are multisectorial and 50% of our turnover is made internationally, all what is definitely not recommended to a young startup. “
“We are not an R&D laboratory, even if we do a lot,” says the manager. The strategy of the company is indeed to keep the hand: it collects requests from industrial contractors, also called “partners and not customers”, and spends two to three years on average to design a solution personalized and collaborative based on its smart pigments. But it does not sell pigments, preferring to incorporate them itself into the material (paints, inks …) and provide a finished product. Such a partnership has for example been carried out with Eiffage within a consortium dedicated to the “Road of the Future”. Two kilometers of cycle track, tested in Pessac, for example benefit from a photoluminescent paint marking using these pigments which greatly improve visibility.
The start of an industrial development
Olikrom now employs 14 people. This figure will not stop there since Jean-François Létard has a resolutely industrial vision. Accelerated by Up Grade program, the startup has just incorporated its new premises on 1.650 m2 in Pessac which house its headquarters, administrative services, an R&D lab and a pilot unit. “It will be used to produce our solutions in small quantities to validate the markets.It is the start of industrial development.We will then install a much larger industrial site outside Bordeaux metropolitan area, which will be adapted to our industrial needs”, explains the manager, rather proud to see that “basic research sometimes leads to the hiring of permanent contracts“. During the inauguration, Jean-François Létard thanked the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry of Bordeaux and many others, along with Alain Rousset, President of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. and Franck Raynal, Mayor of Pessac. Both are very satisfied to see that in these times of difficult reindustrialisation of the territories, certain atypical trajectories create this type of jobs. The new headquarters is sized to accommodate 50 people. And Jean-François Létard asserts, it is only a beginning. He “holds the rudder” strongly and discards any possibility of buy out: “If ever one day I end up selling Olikrom to an industrialist, you could say that I have failed. “
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As for the premises released by Olikrom, the startup Carbon Waters will settle there with similar model and ambitions around the graphene water.