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Montpellier’s Med Vallée global health cluster is already attracting promising talents

Information updated on 25/04/22

The momentum generated by Med Vallée is showing promise, attracting bright new stars enticed by an ecosystem that promotes their development. Here are testimonials by PredictCan, Biophileus, and La TeleScop.

PredictCan, Biophileus Ⓒ 3M Audrey Viste ; La TeleScop Ⓒ La TeleScop

PredictCan, Biophileus © 3M Audrey Viste; La TeleScop © La TeleScop

Sara Cherradi and Hong Tuan Duong were both working at Inserm in Strasbourg when they first decided to create PredictCan. Their meeting sparked a project to develop a completely innovative method for the early detection of solid cancers, such as liver, pancreas, and colon cancer. That is how they decided to found their own company... in Montpellier, not Strasbourg.
 
They considered their options carefully and were motivated by Med Vallée, Montpellier’s world-class global health cluster.

“Med Vallée was certainly a determining factor in our decision,” says the CEO of PredictCan, Hong Tuan Duong, who holds a PhD in cell biology with a specialization in pharmacology. He headed translational research projects at the Basel University Hospital for 17 years, before continuing with similar projects at Inserm in Strasbourg for four years.

With a focus on precision medicine, PredictCan not only plans to target the diagnostics sector, but the drug sector as well.

“We are developing a non-invasive method that is designed to detect the presence of precursor signals of solid cancers through a simple blood test, and then recommend several therapeutic options,” explains Sarah Cherradi, a doctor in biohealth with specialization in cancer, and co-founder and General Manager of PredictCan.

Founded in September 2021 in Montpellier, their company is participating in Montpellier BIC’s pre-incubation program. They are moving to Cap Delta, in Montpellier’s Euromedicine Biopole science park, in April.

 “Montpellier Métropole’s support has been exemplary. Its teams put us in contact with Bpifrance, which agreed to support our project as part of its Deeptech program,” adds Sara Cherradi.

All in all, PredictCan is off to a strong start, especially since the company has already established a partnership with the Montpellier CHU university hospital for the screening method it is developing.

Other partnerships may follow. “Med Vallée will facilitate connections with other players, such as chemists and clinical practitioners. This will enable us to speed up market launch for molecules with high therapeutic potential. Similarly, we will be able to contribute our expertise to laboratories working on synthesizing new molecules in order to evaluate their therapeutic effect,” emphasizes Hong Tuan Duong.

Med Vallée also fosters cross-fertilization. Bastien Nguyen Duy-Bardakji is confident that this is the case. As co-founder of the cooperative startup La TeleScop in Montpellier, along with Claire Dupaquier and Julie Chaurand, the engineer specialized́ in satellite sensors believes that the globally oriented Med Vallée cluster will make collaborations easier.

“We will be closer to companies and laboratories with which we can pool our skills to launch new projects. It will be an innovation booster,” he says.

It is a natural part of La TeleScop’s DNA, as the company was assisted by the Montpellier Business and Innovation Centre (BIC). In March, the company, which is working on research programs with INRAE and IRD, reinforced its collaboration with DarkSkyLab by acquiring equity in the company, in response to a request by the Toulouse-based engineering firm specializing in the scientific assessment of light pollution. In 2021, the two partners had jointly produced the very first region-wide cartography of light pollution for the Occitanie Region, based on satellite data.
 
Patrick Hivin feels the same way. CEO of BioPhiLeus, a company founded in 2019 and located at the Hannibal “Artisan and Service Business Village” in Cournonsec (just outside Montpellier), Patrick Hivin is a microbiologist who applies his scientific skills to cultivate tasty – but rare – varieties of mushrooms, including king trumpet, golden oyster, pink oyster, and enoki mushrooms.
 
To do this, he and his partner – who holds a PhD in microbiology – have created special cultivation chambers. These fully automated and self-governing units precisely regulate environmental conditions to ensure optimal cultivation on plant biomass. Mushrooms grown there are then sold to gourmet restaurants and local food shops. He plans to expand this ingenious and unique system into a franchise.
 
Whereas he is an expert in his field as a scientist, he also needs other skills that Med Vallée can provide.

“The Med Vallée cluster will make it easier to bring people together. It will no longer take us two months to find partners,” he observes, before adding: “Not only that, but Med Vallée will give us excellent exposure.”

Synergy, partnerships, cross-fertilization, exposure...
 
It’s all part of Med Vallée’s mission to serve as an accelerator for growth and attractiveness!
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