The French Riviera-based company Klearia aims to accelerate the commercial development of its miniaturized, portable, and automated laboratory, which allows for the rapid in situ detection of heavy metal traces in water. This is a significant challenge for industrial players that the startup seeks to capitalize on.
The French SME Klearia launched a €200,000 fundraising campaign through the Ayomi platform before the summer to boost the commercial development of its innovation. It involves a 'lab-on-a-chip,' a miniaturized, portable, and automated system that allows for the detection of trace-level metallic pollutants in water in situ, in just two hours. This includes arsenic, lead, mercury, and copper, with precision equivalent to that of a high-performance laboratory.
Contained within a briefcase, the system is 'user-friendly and completely safe,' says Clément Nanteuil, founder and CEO of Klearia (9 employees, undisclosed revenue), a spin-off of the CNRS established in the Paris region on the Saclay plateau in 2012, before relocating to Nice in 2018, drawn by the growing cleantech momentum.
"We are targeting industrial users of process water, whether it's bottled water or water used in the manufacturing of microelectronic components, which must be ultra-pure. Today, we can detect four metals, and we aim to detect a dozen within a year. Major companies are closely monitoring us; they immediately see the value of the technology, but we need to demonstrate the benefits," he explains. The stakes are enormous for these industries. One recalls the scandal that hit Perrier in 1990 after traces of a carcinogenic gas were detected by a laboratory. The group had to recall 280 million bottles worldwide, costing around one billion francs (over 150 million euros).
AN INNOVATION WITH HIGH POTENTIAL Klearia has already won over companies in the agri-food, chemical, luxury, cosmetic, and aquaculture sectors, which are increasingly seeking to recycle used water. The company also collaborates with the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis. Clément Nanteuil envisions expanding the lab-on-a-chip technology beyond metals to trace medications or pesticides. But first, he needs to accelerate its commercial development. 'To do so, we need to hire, as out of the nine current employees, seven have a scientific background,' says Clément Nanteuil. 'We have begun transitioning from a technological start-up into a real business.'
Partly hosted in Nice by the Mediterranean Institute of Risk, Environment, and Development (Imredd), and at the CNRS in Sophia Antipolis, Klearia is recognized as an impact start-up by Bpifrance and France Digitale. It has recently been certified by the Solar Impulse Foundation as one of the 1,000 solutions that are 'clean, efficient, and profitable' for the climate.
The company aims to achieve one million euros in revenue within a year. It plans to launch a second fundraising campaign with a target of two million euros, allowing it to build a team of around fifty employees.