An innovative project such as ours takes time: time to undertake research, time to establish a product and time for validation.
It’s a story, the story of a methodical and persevering man: Pascal Drevet. As one thing lead to another it became an adventure, the adventure of starting a business, creating an innovative product and finding a niche in the global market. It’s also the adventure of a whole team.
HPE Ingredients is an innovative project born after a 5-year Research & Development work, carried out by Pascal Drevet, a food industry professional since 1984:
From an idea to a project
Pascal Drevet has been a management consultant in a consulting firm based in Caen since 2002, after follwing a professional career in marketing and business development in food industry companies since 1984.
In 2010, as a fifty-year-old man, he started looking forward to the future and considered taking over a food industry company.
He attended a training at Caen’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “5 days to start your business”.
After that, there were meetings and discussions with many different players.
He heard about the sale of a ready-cooked dishes company in Trouville, Normandy. Unfortunately his proposal to take over the company was not accepted.
But by talking with the directors of this company, he found out that using snails for ready-cooked meals generated many by-products.
He discovered that 30% of the snail’s weight is disposed of, generating extra costs which penalise the profitabilty of the cooked snail in the food industry.
While working as a consultant, Pascal Drevet thought about how best to create value from this by-product: i.e.using the part of the snail which was not required in the preparation of ready-cooked meals (technical name hepato-pancreas).
He searched for infomation, contacts, feedback.
Pascal Drevet’s intention was to understand the value of the snail and he still wanted to take over a company in food industry.
Working with Ivamer (in Caen), specialist firm in the management and valorisation of food resources, Pascal Drevet commissioned a bibliographical summary to provide them with an overview of the different development prospects from using the snail.
Working together with ESIX Caen students, he went even further in his studies.
With this first piece of work providing a solid foundation, he entered into a pre-incubation stage with Caen’s incubator, Normandie Incubation: EP2I. This allowed him to take his innovative project for the first time into the laboratory.
Working with CBB Développement in Rennes, a specialist laboratory in emergence of innovative biotechnology projects (today called CBB Capbiotek), the first enzymes extractions were realised, from snail flesh.
Les Escargot de l’Odon in the town of Aunay-sur-Odon regularly provided the raw material necessary for conducting the trials.
At the University of Caen, Pascal Sourdaine, director of the Institute of Fundamental and Applied Biology (also member of HPE’s scientific committee), helped Pascal Drevet to formulate the questions and to study the answers: the biotechnological and scientific results were of a high standard.
Pascal Drevet wondered what were the possible applications of this biotechnological development using snail by-products in food.
ESIEE Management students conducted a market research study, which proved to be very interesting…
This was a key year with the continuation of laboratory work:
- Still working with CBB Développement in Rennes
- And also with Probiogem in Lille, a specialist laboratory in peptides, which continued the characterization work of biological properties.
In 2012, Pascal Drevet had the opportunity to meet many professionals from the animal foods, human nutrition and health industries to estimate the size of the market and the expectations of professionals.
Meanwhile, the consulting firm which employed him was in difficulty resulting in the finishing of this contract.
In October 2012, Pascal Drevet was unemployed but already had an idea in mind: there was potential in the snail, for sure!
In November 2012, he joined Caen’s Incubator, Normandie Incubation, with snail and food biotechnology development as his project base.
Pascal Drevet spent two years studying all aspects of the project feasibility during this incubation and gestation stage, both of the project and with project partners.
That’s well, but he was unemployed!
Pascal Drevet was realistic: the road to success as an entrepreneur path is a long one… so he had to keep the distance. Using the snail as an analogy was good, but at this specific time it was not generating an income.
From January 2013, he divided his professional career into 2 parts:
50% as transition manager in food industry companies in western France as an employee.
50% for his Snail project, with zero income.
By 2016, the time spent had evolved with now 80% on the project and 20% as transition manager.
These experiences improved his skills, thanks to discussions with other professionals. They also allowed him to network and to enrich its vision of consumer markets.
During these 2 years, Pascal Drevet conducted trials with the different laboratories partners of the project:
- University of Caen
- CBB Développement in Rennes
- Probiogem in Lille
He tested, retested, studied the manufacturing processes, checked the repeatability and reliability of the results: it was necessary to establish the production stages, to ensure the stability of biotechnological properties, to verify the process feasibility, that the results were reliable, that quality and traceability could be verified… in one word, he had to validate that it worked!
In parallel, he studied the regulatory aspects with a firm specialising in industrial property: the Cabinet Vidon in Rennes.
Patents were filed at the end of 2014, still with the Cabinet Vidon in Rennes, specialising in food regulation.
The Caen’s incubator, Normandie Incubation helped him to move forward in the different stages, in particular to meet different players in the food industry.
Pascal Drevet also became a member of Valorial, the food industry Competitiveness cluster of the NorthWest of France, which helped him to establish contacts and to train on technical issues.
In 2014, his project won an award: the Lauréat du Concours organised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research: a major step, which allowed the quality of his project to be recognised. He received financial support from several sources, helping him to strengthen his feasibility study.
He also attended many professional trade shows in France, in Europe, in North America, in order to validate the concept, the products, the positioning and to start developing commercial ideas.
But what was so innovative in snail biotechnology?
From project to Business plan
Since 2010, the various studies on snails carried out by Pascal Drevet helped him to build an innovative project.
Until that moment, snail flesh was not used for anything else than ready-cooked meals. It is used in cosmetics with its mucus as well, but on a very small scale. Yet one part of snail flesh is thrown away and costing money to food industry companies and ready-cooked meals manufacturers .
Using the hepato-pancreas is therefore part of an eco-design approach (or circular economy), because it allows the by-product to be valued.
How could this by-product be valued? That was Pascal Drevet’s initial question.
The major innovation is based on the biotechnological valorisation of the snail.
From the various studies carried out by Pascal Drevet with several laboratories, it has been shown that snail flesh contains a very interesting level of peptides and enzymes.
The extraction processes developed made it possible to test different qualities in terms of metabolic functioning.
And various in vivo tests (in rats) allowed the validation of the properties, their reliability and stability.
Thus, two innovative products of natural origin were born:
- Helipept®: peptide hydrolysate to prevent and reduce high blood pressure
- Helizym®: an enzymatic cocktail to improve digestive comfort
These powders can be integrated:
- In dietary supplements for human consumption: in capsule or tablet.
- In food (dry animal food, flour) for animals (poultry, pigs, dogs, cats).
This year, all indicators turned green, one after the other: the decision to start his business became real!
But it was the conducting of in vivo tests in hypertensive rats with peptides that allowed Pascal Drevet to press the “start” button.
Indeed, tests carried out by Etap Lab in Nancy were very positive: the systolic blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats decreased by 20 mm Hg, compared with a control batch and the reference medicinal product used to treat high blood pressure.
From this major validation, the process of starting his business was given a boost: Pascal Drevet could now build his business plan.
In June 2015, at the BioCitech Days contest, the project won the Emergence category: once again, the quality of the project was recognised, and new financial support helped to move forward.
Decembre 2015: the company HPE Ingredients was created, based in Caen and managed by Pascal Drevet.
For further information:
- The founder: Pascal Drevet
- Technical partners
- HPE Ingredients: start-up of the Food Technology, ingredients manufacturer in France and worldwide
- 2 innovative ingredients of natural origin : Helipept® & Helizym® & Nutrelix® & Heliskin®
- … & to contact us