The founding team
Julien spent 7+ years as a researcher in the stem cell field, first as a PhD student in a Sino-French joint lab between Paris and Beijing, then as a post-doc at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He later joined a budding French biotechnology company, Phenocell, as a CSO, where he worked for the next 7 years, implementing with his team a range of new in vitro models and bioassays to offer the dermo-cosmetic and ophthalmology industry innovative tools for discovery.
While leading his biotech lab, Julien also became more involved with business development as he closely interacted with a variety of customers for the in vitro test services, ranging from academic teams to larger pharmaceutical companies. In 2021, he completed the HEC Challenge+ program to gain better insights and skills in entrepreneurship.
Julien’s research has led to over 15 publications and 2 patents.
Suriya started his career with 4+ years as hardware and software engineer in the designing department of an industrial equipment manufacturer. He covered the full spectrum of the different tasks that the development of a new product might require, from helping the customer define the needs, to the aftersale technical support, by way of the design and the industrialization of the product.
Working for the following 6 years as function owner in the Volvo Trucks company let him supervise the developments of truck features in the various sites of the group around the world. His next position in Alstom Transport gave him the opportunity to have responsibility for an entire metro train sub-system, which allowed him to oversee several international projects in his scope.
Suriya has been part of Cellaven project since its inception. As the architect and designer of the Nestor system, he specifically developed our patented technology of fluid distribution.
The Nestor's birth
The frustration of a stem cell biologist
While stem cell research is a fascinating field, it often comes with a fair share of burden and costly inconveniences
Julien experienced these issues first hand, when working long hours as a researcher in his cell culture room, and later acknowledged the complaints of his team members. In order to reduce the time spent performing low-value cell culture tasks, he started to look for solutions…
Cell culture automation : out of reach?
Cell culture automation solutions do exist, but they are not really targeted at R&D laboratories…
A new solution was needed : one that would better fit research laboratories…
The emergence of a new concept
The Nestor cell culture automaton concept was matured during the first covid lock down in 2020, it would be:
Imagining a concept is one thing, creating a functional piece of hardware is another: this is when Julien reached out to his old-time friend Suriya. As a mechatronic engineer with many years of experience in industrial product and system development, Suriya had the skills and knowledge to bring Julien’s vision to life.
Suriya developed the patented fluid control technology that made the Nestor small and affordable. The first working prototype was 3D printed and assembled in 2021, while lab tests were performed throughout 2022.
Cellaven: the start of a journey
With their first prototype, Julien’s and Suriya’s ideas were now reality.
However, a product alone does not make a business: it needs to find its market.
In order to confirm his intuition, Julien spent the next several months interviewing and meeting over 35 R&D teams, from academic or private laboratories. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and convinced the pair that they had something.
In June of 2022, Julien and Suriya co-founded Cellaven and implanted it in Dijon, in the heart of the French Burgundy region. Known for its great wine tradition, Burgundy also boasts a vibrant industrial history in micro-technologies, making it a relevant choice for Cellaven.
An experienced advisory team
They were later joined by Philippe Grimm and Dominique Halatre to assist with business development, while Sébastien Parriault provided guidance in lab equipment development.
Philippe has a 30 year long track record in the biotechnology industry. Co-founder of Vitrology in 2008, later acquired by SGS in 2012 to become SGS-Vitrology, he is since then Director of Business Development & Marketing. SGS-vitrology is one of the highest quality world-wide leaders in the GMP testing market.
In the first 20 years of his career, Dominique developed an extensive experience in IT and web-marketing: co-founder of several start-ups, he also oversaw the development of the Apple Premium Reseller brand in France. Increasingly attracted by the opportunities offered in the Life Science market, Dominique joined SGS-Vitrology in 2018 as a senior Business Development Manager, in charge of Europe, India & Middle East.
An engineer at his core, Sébastien has spent the past 23 years of his career developing and improving automated systems in the in-vitro diagnostic market. He is currently leading R&D intrumentation at Immunodiagnostic Systems, a Perkin-Elmer company, specialized in automated endocrinology immunoassays.
The next steps for Cellaven
Several MVPs will be made available starting Q2 2023, for laboratories interested in getting a first hand on the Nestor system
We anticipate a commercial release by Summer of 2024.
In order to support these milestones, Cellaven is now opening a seed round for investors.
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