Reading time 5 minutes

OliKrom, the Gironde-based start-up specializing in the design, production and integration of "intelligent" pigments

smart paint

OliKrom is a Gironde-based startup specializing in the design, production and integration of "smart" pigments, resulting from the culmination of fundamental research conducted at the Bordeaux Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry (ICMCB) by Jean-François Létard, Research Director at the CNRS.

Founded in 2014 at ChemInnov (Pessac), it is developing a new generation of smart pigments that change color depending on the environment: temperature, light, pressure. The startup won the "Emergence" competition in 2012, organized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and now has 6 employees.

The intelligence of colors, many fields of application

Inserted in paints, inks or polymers, these pigments change color on contact with heat, cold, light, pressure, while remaining durable. The sectors of application extend to aeronautics, automotive, marine, plastics, paint, packaging, luxury goods, security, traceability, anti-counterfeiting, tooling, cosmetics, etc.

Eight years of R&D were necessary to refine this technological maturation, accompanied by the passage into a transfer cell, hosted by ADERA (Association for the Development of Teaching and Research at the universities, research centers and companies of Aquitaine). The added value of OliKrom pigments is their excellent UV resistance, unlike existing thermochromes, and the absence of toxic metals. The color change temperature can be controlled at will, from -150°C to +150°C, with reversible or irreversible effects depending on the intended application.

OliKrom raises €300,000 in funding

In order to accelerate its technological development, structure its production activity and launch its commercial action, OliKrom has convinced the French investment funds Starquest Capital and Pertinence Invest to join its capital. These two French players, who are very complementary in their approach, are contributing €300K to this first round of financing.

Emmanuel Gaudé and Arnaud Delattre, founding partners of Starquest Capital, see OliKrom as "a perfect illustration of their investment policy, with the rare combination of an outstanding entrepreneur, a disruptive technology, a global market in essence, and a very clear and structured market approach".

"OliKrom represents a project that is the quintessence of the Pertinence Invest model: a technology from our laboratories, associated patents, a strong and global economic potential, a creative researcher, but also the culmination of a project that has been carried out for five years by ADERA (one of the seven founders of Pertinence Invest), whose development Pertinence Invest wished to pursue," said Henri-Marc Michaud, President of Pertinence Invest.

"The potential of smart pigment technology is creating a real buzz in various fields," explains Jean-François Létard, founder and President of OliKrom. "These pigments can be used in paints, inks, plastics and meet the challenges of security, traceability, eco-design, development for decoration and for the interactive home of tomorrow!

A simple glance at a fragile aircraft part, covered with "intelligent" paint, can, for example, tell us if it has suffered a shock. A simple visual check on a fine wine label can tell us the right temperature to drink it... We have great commercial prospects and a major investment is needed to meet market demand. I am pleased that we have completed this first round of financing, which marks a new stage in OliKrom's development, that of rapidly reaching industrial maturity.

Today, OliKrom has found an ideal framework for the development of its activities. The company already holds two patent licenses filed by the CNRS and Aquitaine Science Transfert (AST), with the first international marketing of optical cards by Laser Components and by Newport Corporation, a world leader in laser technologies. Jean-François Létard's company plans to recruit rapidly (three more people by September) and has set ambitious development goals: €3.4 million in sales in 2017 and a position as world leader in intelligent pigments by 2020.