in ten years, the contractor Thomas Laurent has started the creation of three start-ups with ecological and responsible projects in Toulouse. The latter has been talking a lot about her for months: Micropep. Indeed, it is considered a “revolution” in the agricultural world.
Three. This is the number of start-up projects that the entrepreneur Thomas Laurent has carried out since his installation in Toulouse ten years ago. The latest: Micropep. This young company is working on developing natural inputs and pesticides based on micro-peptides. The latter are proteins naturally present in the body of plants that help them germinate, grow and protect themselves from disease.
Multiplied on an industrial scale, micro-peptides will soon make it possible to create a range of products that, once injected or sprayed on plantations, will aid in the proper development of crops, the fight against diseases, but also the delay of the weed growth, replacing the controversial glyphosate.
“A new story on a white beach”
Before founding Micropep in 2016, Thomas Laurent spent two years as a business developer at Toulouse Tech Transfer. His work ? Link between researchers and industrial partners are interested in the results of their scientific or technological research. “This experience gave me a good understanding of intellectual property issues and the interest of deep tech. But also, from keep an eye out for promising projects that came from public research labs,” he always admits ready for new entrepreneurial adventures.
After consultation with Jean-Philippe Combier and Dominique Lauressergues, Researchers from CNRS and University of Toulouse behind the discovery of micropeptides, Thomas Laurent resigned as business developer to dedicate himself to founding the start-up Micropep. “The idea of writing a new story on a blank page stimulates me enormously,” the forty-year-old delights. And this page is already full, because in a few years he managed to raise almost 20 million euros with French and foreign investors. The goal is to launch its inputs and pesticides on the US market soon (2025) and then in Europe in 2027.
A start-up project in small wind turbines…
Already on the benches of ESSEC, a business school in the Paris region, the young student from Lyon interested in entrepreneurship, human resources and finance. He started his career in strategy consultancy for several companies within a firm in the capital. “I made strategic recommendations without really knowing whether they would be implemented afterwards,” he admits. And he missed seeing his ideas come to fruition.
So when he landed in Toulouse ten years ago to follow his partner who had just landed a job as a researcher in agronomy, Thomas Laurent starts with his father-in-law to set up a first company production of small wind turbines for individuals and professionals. “He is an ironworker and had managed to make a prototype of three meters in diameter in his garage. So I worked with him to launch a start-up, we entered an incubator (Nubbo) and won the BPI (formerly I-Lab) “Emergence” competition,” recalls the entrepreneur, who eventually put all his skills into execution. But due to a lack of market demand, he left the project at the end of 2012.
… Then a second in urban horticulture
The following year, Thomas Laurent re-engaged, but this time along with Cédric Jules and Alexandre Belin, he met through friends. Together they launch Macadam Garden, a vertical vegetable garden production company that enables the development of urban horticulture. “I have always lived in big cities, in Lyon, in Paris, in Toulouse. I am not the son or grandson of a farmer. But this idea of bringing nature closer to cities really interested me, from a technical and environmental point of view,” explains the 40-year-old. At the end of 2013, he permanently left the start-up due to “disputes” in the vision of his future. The results of these first two experiences have been mixed for Thomas Laurent, who nevertheless remained convinced that one day he would the nugget. He is now convinced: this nugget is Micropep.
An environmentally conscious entrepreneur at work and in life
In addition to a strong attraction to the economic world, Thomas Laurent an ecological sensitivity that guides him in all his projects. She was educated while studying in Paris along with her classmates who, like him, grew up in the 90s when there was a certain lack of concern about the environmental crisis. From that time he remembers the name ofone of the members of his promotion who inspired him a lot: Jean Moreaufounder of the food waste prevention platform Phenix.
“I first applied my ecological principles in my work, before my partner made me realize it I also had to act in my daily life laughs the entrepreneur: “From now on I pay more attention to my consumption, I eat almost no meat anymore, I buy second-hand and for my business trips I prefer the train to the plane”.
According to him, every person is “only passing through the earth” and must “ mobilize all their skills to have a positive impact on the world Because he is now the father of two little girls aged 3 and 5 and seeing the economic, environmental and epidemic crises succeed one another, he fears only one thing: “that my children will tell me that I have not made anything to try to change that”.