An innovative project, it’s a project that takes time: time for research, time for maturation, time for validation.
It’s a story, the story of a methodical and persevering man. One thing leading to another, it becomes an adventure, the adventure of starting a business, creating an innovation and a niche in a 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 idea to project
Pascal Drevet has been a management consultant in a consulting firm based in Caen since 2002, after a professional career in marketing and business development in food industry companies since 1984.
In 2010, as a young fifty-year-old man, he started looking forward and thought about taking over a food industry company.
He attended a training at Caen’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “5 days to start your business”.
Then came meetings and discussions with many different players.
He heard about the transfer of a ready-cooked dishes company in Trouville. He completed a takeover file, which was unfortunately not accepted.
But by talking with the directors of this company, he found out that using snails for ready-cooked dishes generated many by-products.
The revelation was to discover that 30% of the snail’s weight is thrown away, thus this by-product creates extra costs which penalize the profitability of cooked snail in the food industry.
In parallel to his consultant job, Pascal Drevet thought about how to value this by-product: it is the part of the snail unused in the preparation of ready-cooked dishes, more technically called the hepato-pancreas.
He looked for info, contacts, feedback.
In his mind, he wanted to know how to value the snail and he still wanted to take over a food industry company.
With Ivamer (in Caen), specialised firm in management and valorisation of food resources, Pascal Drevet commissioned a bibliographical summary to have an overview of the different valuations of the snail.
With ESIX Caen students, he went further in his studies.
Based on these first elements, he entered in pre-incubation with Caen’s incubator, Normandie Incubation: through EP2I, which is a detection stage of innovative projects, he could carry out the first laboratory work.
With CBB Développement in Rennes, specialised laboratory in emergence of innovative biotechnology projects (today called CBB Capbiotek), first enzymes extractions were realised, from snail flesh.
Les Escargot de l’Odon in 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 him to formulate the questions and to study the answers: the biotechnological and scientific levels were high!
Pascal Drevet wondered what were the possible applications of this biotechnological valorisation, to use snail by-products in food.
ESIEE Management students conducted a market research, which proved to be very interesting…
It was a key year with the continuation of laboratory work:
- Still with CBB Développement in Rennes
- And also with Probiogem in Lille, specialised laboratory in peptides, which continued the characterization work of biological properties.
In 2012, it was also the opportunity to meet many professionals from animal food industry, human nutrition industry, health industry, to estimate the size of the market and the expectations of professionals.
Meanwhile, the consulting firm which employed him was in difficulty and announced his economic lay-off.
In October 2012, Pascal Drevet was unemployed but already had an idea in mind: there was something to do with the snail, for sure!
In November 2012, he joined Caen’s Incubator, « Normandie Incubation », with snail and food biotechnology valorisation as project base.
He had 2 years to study all feasibility aspects of his project: it was the incubation and maturation stage, both of the project and the project leader.
That’s well, but he was unemployed!
Pascal Drevet was realistic: the entrepreneur path is long… so he had to keep the distance. Thinking snail all the time was good, but at this moment it didn’t pay!
As of January 2013, he divided his professional career into 2 parts:
50% as transition manager in food industry companies of the West of France, with wage and social rights,
50% for his Snail project, with zero income.
Over time, percentages evolved towards 80% on the project in 2016 / 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 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 specialised in industrial property, the Cabinet Vidon in Rennes.
Patents were filed at the end of 2014, still with the Cabinet Vidon in Rennes, specialised in food regulation.
The Caen’s incubator « Normandie Incubation » helped him to move forward in the different stages, in particular to meet different players of the food industry.
Pascal Drevet also became a member of Valorial, the food industry Competitiveness cluster of the North-West of France, which helped him to establish contacts and to train on technical issues.
In 2014, his project won the Emergence contest organised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research: a major step, which allowed the quality of his project to be recognised. Several financial supports then helped him to strengthen his feasibility study.
He also attended many professional trade shows in France, in Europe, in North America, 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 the snail carried out by Pascal Drevet helped him to build an innovative project.
Until now, snail flesh was not used for anything else than ready-cooked dishes. 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 costs money to food industry companies and ready-cooked dishes manufacturer.
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 to value this by-product? 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 to validate the properties, their reliability and stability.
Thus, 2 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 (kibbles, flours) for animals (poultry, pig, doc, cat).
This year, all indicators turned green, one after the other: the decision to start his business became real!
But it was the conduct of in vivo tests in hypertensive rats with peptides that allowed 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 boosted: Pascal Drevet could 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 supports helped to move forward.
Decembre 2015: creation of the company HPE Ingredients, 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