Karim Mouneimne and Fréderic Mouret during 2010 business meeting in Arizona
This Cardiovsacular Device Pioneer Interview is Part 2 of 3 and discusses how Fréderic Mouret and the Protomed Model Accelerates Start-Up success. Fréderic Mouret is a seasoned medical device entrepreneur with 20 years of experience. He is currently the president and the CEO of Protomed SA in France, a medical device development group specialized in the development of minimally invasive and interventional devices and the CEO of Bypass Solution.
Karim Mouneimne: Fréderic, in our first interview segment you said that you are CEO and President of Protomed and the CEO of Bypass Solution. How does the Bypass Solutions development strategy benefit from your Protomed business model, which seems to be a little bit of an incubator business model, but maybe not completely?
Frederic Mouret: Sure. Protomed is a kind of incubator. We help surgeons, universities or even start-up companies start with good practices, a good vision, and good project management of their device with good engineers. They are able to start with a very good team at a very early stage.
They do not need to focus on ISO 13485. They just focus on the project. Protomed helps them be dedicated to their project with Protomed taking care of the rest: Taking care of the ISO part, taking care of finding suppliers because we have plenty of suppliers, qualified suppliers we can rely on. It’s very interesting for a start-up company like Bypass Solution because they are in a situation where the money injected into their project is purely dedicated to R&D.
At Protomed we’re able to support our start-up customers from the early beginning and work with them from a blank page: An idea drawn on paper, bring them the first concept to create an IP portfolio, and support them in all the phases of development. From design input to design verification and validation, and all the way up to potential design transfer and go-to-market.
It’s really about finding a way to help customers. The customer is not linked to us. Sometimes they want to start and get help from Protomed, but later decide to grow by themselves. Protomed is able to step back and say “OK, we’ve done our job. We can still continue to support you, but if you want to be more active in your development, you can do so.” Protomed is like a CTO that is able to really manage the project at the beginning, and when the company has more money, it can take over the project and develop it. And of course, the company can continue to rely on our expertise.
Karim Mouneimne: From what you have explained, and the way you are explaining it, I feel that “incubator” is not the right word for Protomed. “Accelerator” seems to be much more appropriate because it really depends on where your customer is, the stage of development. You will find a solution that is most appropriate for them. So accelerated seems to be matching your business model. When you are in discussions with investors, are they familiar with this principle of operation from the beginning? If not, how are you going to manage the opportunity?
Frederic Mouret: I’m not sure if they are really familiar with this type of job. They really appreciate it because they have a team which is able to take the lead on a project and manage the project from the beginning. And it’s very reinsuring for investors to see that they can rely on a full team, which is ready, which knows the job very well. Investors know that they won’t spend money on finding engineers, and they won’t spend money on finding the right strategy or the right suppliers. We know all the suppliers that can be involved, and we have the engineers. So, it’s really interesting for investors.
This business model is also very interesting for universities which are also investors. Universities are following surgeons or physicians that are developing ideas. They are really eager to find companies like ours to transfer technology to mature companies, but still work with start-ups.
Karim Mouneimne: With a traditional start-up structure, when you come in, you have a dedicated team. In the eye of investors, what would be considered the riskiest aspect of this opportunity and working with this business model?
Frederic Mouret: I think the biggest issue for the investor is not taking the lead on the project. That’s why we have this capacity at Protomed: just to provide exactly what they need at the right time. This is really where we are working. Because we know that investors want to have the lead on strategy, and they want to have the lead on regulatory aspects of the project. So we help them achieve that and we are not stealing the project from the inventors. We are just helping them move forward and be able to do this.
If they can continue to manage all the regulatory and the strategy, the only risk is a pure technical risk. We are not magicians. It’s not because you are working with Protomed that your project will be 100% successful. There are still issues with new technology, but it’s really a way to decrease the failure rate of projects.
Karim Mouneimne: And we know very much with novel medical devices, failure rates are all over the place. There are so many challenges.
Yves ALIMI Researcher / Inventor of Bypass Solutions, presents from Vivitro Labs Marseille lab. Video courtsey of SATT Sud-Est team represented by the President, Laurent BALY.
Part 3 of the Cardiovsacular Device Pioneer interview with Fréderic Mouret will conclude in January 2023.
Read about other Cardiovascular Pioneers here.
Protomed Labs SASU was a full subsidiary of the Protomed SA, before being acquired by ViVitro Labs in July 2019. Karim Mouneimne is currently on the board of Protomed SA.