OliKrom on Replay “Innovation Day 2016”

Revolutions waiting to happen about “chameleon” pigments in Pessac.

A Gironde company has developed a new generation of smart pigments: frontage changing of colours depending on the time for energy savings, labels bottles when the wine is at temperature and much more….


An innovation that attracts many industrials sectors, from luxury to aeronautic….​

Many small and medium-sized company would dream of knowing the situation of OliKrom, young start-up situated on the university campus of Pessac, near Bordeaux: since its launching in 2014, there are no days within that a dozens of company or important industrials groups contact the start-up, interested by the innovative technology of OliKrom, created by Jean-François Létard.

Chemist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) for 17 years, the entrepreneur specialized himself in “intelligent” pigments capable of reacting, changing color depending on the temperature, light or pressure. Since 2005, patents increased and the researcher have decided to take the step of entrepreneurship.

A business school training and a few years of incubation later, OliKrom is launched.

And industrialists are rushing. According to Jean-François Létard, they have been waiting for a long time for the renewal of technologies, after the appearance “some 40 years ago” of the first pigments able to change color, but ” not able to resist to ultraviolet, had problems and could be toxic “.

The processes developed by OliKrom make enable the “molecules to change their conformation, and their color”, “with the least possible disturbances”, allowing even very precise, reversible or irreversible modifications.

The “speed” and “non-fatigability” of the process are also at the heart of new materials, says the researcher.

Infinite applications: ​

Another crucial factor in the “hyper-growth” of the young company, which has ten employees and plans to launch an industrial site by the end of 2015 thanks to a recent capital raising of 740,000 €.

Fields of application appear quite simply … infinite.

Together, sectors of luxury, design, decoration and fashion, about intelligent textiles, have already shown their interest to use them in paints, varnishes, inks or plastic pellets.

We can imagine perfume bottle changing of colours, personalized items says Jean-François Létard, but without saying too much details, concerned about confidentiality.

“That can be useful for the fight against counterfeiting, thanks to hidden marking revealed under a specific light or temperature, for health safety thanks to barcodes that change color irreversibly when the cold chain has been broken … “, enumerates Camille Tanguy, in charge of the commercial.

Furthermore, architecture or sport also present an outlet: curtains become opaque at the sun, storage of light through luminescent ceilings, tennis court changing color at the impact of the ball. Especially as the “combinations” of the properties of pigments appear “unlimited”, Underlines Clément Chatelier, laboratory manager.

But one of the most important fields of application of this technological revolution is undoubtedly concerning the security, especially industrial security. OliKrom is already working with the Airbus and Safran groups on the parts that will equip the planes of tomorrow, because, for maintenance, “one of the stakes is being able to quickly see if a part suffers from an abnormal impact”. In plants, the traces of wear and tear of the equipment can, in the same way, be “visually controlled”.

We can also imagine a reduction of work accident or domestic due to the change of color of tools or utensils subjected to high temperatures or a change of color about security doors in case of fire.

And what we are supposed to say about the possibilities thanks to pigments able to react to the presence of gas or solvents, on which the company continues its research?

“The market is vast, it is logical that other companies will appear”, predicts Jean-François Létard, proud that this innovative technology is French, while pointing out the importance of the public aids that allowed to mature its project. And, like its pigments “chameleon”, to pass without difficulty from the status of researcher to an entrepreneur status.