It was at the beginning of the 90s that the partnership between HTS BIO and CNRS(1) was established. For over 25 years, the relationship has become rich, amicable and long lasting. Jacques Faudin, CEO of HTS BIO tells us more…
HTS’Mag: How was the link between CNRS and HTS BIO born?
Jacques Faudin: HTS BIO was established in 1988. Founding a business on the principles of environmental biotechnology almost thirty years ago was a high-risk venture. The early years were not easy: few put their faith in us, many thought we were wishful thinkers, some even tried to trip us up.
It was during the early 90s that I got the idea to reach out to CNRS: I was sure we could establish fruitful synergies with them.
HTS’Mag : There was probably a trigger moment. What was it?
J.F.: Well, that’s quite simple… and it was quite daring, now that I think about it! When we began, we started with a capital of around 1 million francs, around 150 000 Euros (170 000$). That was nowhere near enough to acquire the necessary materials for research, materials that the CNRS had plenty of. That’s where the story begins!
HTS’Mag: So at first, the CNRS put its equipment at your disposal. But you speak of an “amicable and long lasting” relationship: how did that develop?
J.F.: CNRS researchers have the opportunity to work with private companies for 20% of their time (2). Everyone wins. The researchers leave the strict framework of fundamental research to dip their toe in the field of applied research, and the partner organization benefits from their expertise and advice. As for the CNRS, it diversifies its source of revenues. We have a “consultant team” contract with Mr. Vincent Méjean. We have been working hand in hand for more than 20 years. With time, the professional partnership has developed into a warm, sincere and long lasting friendship.
HTS’Mag: These “consultant team” contracts create nice synergy. Are there many companies who have signed such contracts?
J.F.: Sadly no! Hardly more than 10% of the CNRS centers have “consultant team” contracts with partner companies. The concept is not well known and this is regrettable: fundamental research is a precious tool to help us develop innovative products and solutions.
HTS’Mag: The partnership between HTS BIO and CNRS doesn’t end there. Please elaborate.
J.F.: As well as what we have already explained, we “share” postgraduates who are in the midst of writing their thesis within the CNRS on very specific issues.
It is also a very “intimate” collaboration as the doctor in microbiology is employed both by HTS BIO and maintains his position within the CNRS.
HTS’Mag: Can you give us an example of one of the themes on which a doctoral student might be working?
J.F.: Currently, a thesis student is working on understanding bacterial biofilms. A biofilm is a complex organized multicellular structure. It protects cells from external stressors and allows for optimal cellular activity (3).
HTS’Mag: Are you working on other projects with CNRS in future?
J.F.: Since 2015, HTS BIO has received accreditation from the ministry of research as an organization that is conducting work in research and development on behalf of business. The fees are deductible at 30% as a research tax credit (IRC).
In 2017, we hope to reinforce our partnership by obtaining the statute of “shared laboratory” with the CNRS. This would be a colossal investment that would allow us to mutualize our means even further (grey matter, materials) and to work on projects of common interest. The file is ongoing. We hope to receive the honor of this prestigious statute.
(1) CNRS : French National Center for Scientific Research
(2) Read the article “CNRS: a foundational partner” https://htsmag.htsbio.com/en/cnrs-a-foundational-partner/
(3) More information on biofilms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm
First contract established between Jacques Faudin and Gérard Giordano (CNRS director of research) for the “Creation of a bank of microorganisms for the bio-treatment of industrial and environmental waste.”
Start of industrial production and identification of bacteria by KeyBio (classical techniques, 2-3 days). Treatments for the de-nitrification of grease traps and manure.
Production of bio-surfactants and the degradation of hydrocarbons with the help of Gilbert Miles (chemistry professor) and Vincent Méjean (director of research, molecular genetics).
Regional grant with Jean-Philippe Dos Santos (today the technical and scientific director of HTS BIO).
Identification of bacteria with the PCR test.
First prize for innovation (for Jean-Philippe Dos Santos, HTS BIO and the CNRS)
Publications and international patents.
“Team consultant” contract with the bacterial chemistry laboratory (LCB) in Marseille.
“Consultant Team” contract and contract of collaboration with the Bioenergy and Engineering of Proteins laboratory (BIP) within the CNRS Mediterranean Microbiology Insitute in Marseille.
Receipt of accreditation from the ministry for research as an organization involved in research and development in the interest of business.
Filed an application for candidacy to receive the stature of “shared laboratory” in 2017. This is the highest form of integrated research partnership.