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Penetrating Matter

News International-French

14 Dec 2011

Novitom, a new start-up that uses the penetrating power of synchrotron photon beams to  realize non-invasive, non-destructive analyses of matter, was officially created in October, 2011.


Novitom is the first private sector service provider dedicated to synchrotron micro-imaging analysis. By using the powerful synchrotron sources of experimental stations, such as high performance scanners, Novitom can determine with incredible detail the internal structure of products or scientific samples. Novitom exploits these photon beam sources to provide its clients with chemical and structural scientific analyses highly superior to those obtained in laboratories. The company has developed a comprehensive service offering to match the needs of Industry and believes that it can become the benchmark for micro-imaging, most notably in the characterization of materials and products by x-ray tomography.


The different properties of materials (the crispness of a biscuit, the elasticity of foam, the stiffness of a reinforced compound) are the result of the make-up of their own internal architecture. The ability to understand and control this microstructure is enormously beneficial, helping the world of science and Industry to control the characteristics of objects via bespoke manufacturing or formulation processes.


Novitom has significant competitive advantage within this field, namely through its ability to use the exceptional properties of x-rays produced by synchrotron centers. This technique provides 3D microscopic reconstructions of matter of the highest quality and with unprecedented levels of contrast, even with materials offering low levels of absorption. But high-quality imaging is not Novitom’s only asset; an “à la carte” service offering and its ability to work in its own right on research projects or in collaboration with partners opens up a wide variety of commercial opportunities to its clients.


The creation of Novitom has certainly not come “out of the blue”.
The company’s founding members, Barbara Fayard and Jean Doucet, both biophysicist researchers at the National Research Centre (CNRS), Orsay, France, have tested the validity of the Novitom concept, both from a commercial and financial perspective, as part of Floralis’s “Business Unit Programme”. Floralis, the technology transfer subsidiary of the University Joseph Fourier, has put in place a structure that enables fledgling businesses to benefit from a wide range of business services including: marketing & communication, legal, human resources and commercial support during an effective “dry run” of their business prior to the company’s spin-off. Novitom consequently was spun-off from Floralis with a turnover of 100K€ generated in only one year of activity.


Novitom has been supported by a wide variety of partners prior to the creation of the start-up: Grain (Grenoble Incubator), Floralis (commercial development) ESRF (the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) and the Rhone-Alpes region. The company recently won the "Instrumentation" trophy at the international Grenoble Innovation Fair.


It is therefore quite natural that the head office of Novitom should be situated in Grenoble, a strategic choice that will facilitate interaction with the ESRF and local stakeholders relevant to X-ray micro-tomography and imaging analysis. In particular the company’s position in Grenoble is relevant to a potential partnership with Noesis, a company specialized in the development of software for imaging analysis.


A strong local presence does not betray the fact that Novitom intends to position its offering towards an international audience very quickly; contact has already been made with other synchrotron sources which will enable Novitom to offer its clients the quality of services and speed of turnaround they need.


Barbara Fayard, the future Managing Director of Novitom stated: «The transfer of knowledge and technology from academia has always been something that interested me. In a former role I had the chance to meet a number of representatives from Industry who expressed a real interest concerning the ways in which synchrotron capabilities could be fully exploited, but whom did not have the time, resources or scientific know-how to take such a project forward. Similarly, it is fair to say that synchrotrons that have been built by, and for, the public sector, are often ill-suited to the demands of industrial and applied research and such structural and cultural limitations are a real barrier to such projects. A desire to bring together the disparate worlds of academia and Industry was my real motivation to create Novitom, which is a concrete, tangible response to industrial demands to exploit the power of these synchrotron sources. The creation of this company will also be a real vector to create employment for graduates wishing to specialize in this field”.



The recent recruitment of Olivier Guiraud, who has a doctorate from the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, is such an example. This new recruit will be responsible for the technical and commercial development for plastics, polymer chemistry and biomaterial fibres within Novitom. His appointment should enable Novitom to penetrate important new markets, and the company hopes, realize a short term financial objective of 1m€ turnover in three years time.



About Novitom

Novitom is a service-provider in the field of 3D imaging which was officially created in October 2011 following its integration within Floralis’s Business Unit Programme. The company generated a turnover of 100k€ in 2010 and hopes to multiply this figure by ten by 2014. Novitom offers services in X-ray micro tomography, a high performance technique that enables the microstructure of an object to be revealed non-invasively and non-destructively. The Novitom offering is relevant to a very large number of business and research applications, including, amongst others: pharmacy, healthcare, cosmetics, agribusiness, textiles, wood/paper industries, petrochemical, metallurgy, materials, energy and the environment.

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About Floralis

Floralis is the technology transfer subsidiary of the University Joseph Fourier (UJF), Grenoble, France. A limited company that was created in 2004, Floralis is responsible for managing the intellectual property of the UJF (nearly 200 patent families) and creating and implementing strategies to transfer technology from research laboratories to the market. The company does this via a variety of models including the development of Business Units (a means of fast-tracking technology to the market), licensing and the development of start-ups. Floralis currently manages 10 Business Units in different phases of development.