The company benefits from support on financial and HR aspects for its establishment.
After a career in the oil sector, Thomas Guillet founded Remedial Performance, a company specialized in automation and instrumentation tools for the oil & gas industry, in 2012 in Singapore. In 2017, he joined “l’Usine 4.0”, Total’s start-up incubator, and travelled heavily between Singapore, his R&D office in Jakarta, and France. In July 2019, he founded Edge Technologies, a French start-up, to confirm the proof of concept of his smart sensors. A discussion in Singapore with an entrepreneur from Provence convinced him to invest in the local ecosystem and to look at the manufacturers around Berre lagoon to begin a rollout in France. When he arrived, development agency Provence Promotion guided him through the procedures, supporting him in his HR and financial strategies and help him to become part of the ecosystem. The region’s quality of life and connections to global financial capitals were decisive in convincing him he had made the right choice.
Based in Singapore, Thomas Guillet is often away on business. While participating in the “Disruptive Energy” program organized by Business France in Texas, he took the time to tell us about his latest project despite the time difference with France. Edge Technologies is just a few months old with a promising future ahead of it. A spin-off of the Singaporean company Remedial Performance, the new start-up designs smart sensors for ATEX-certified manufacturing IoT. This design office based at the Gardanne Ecole des Mines is the result of Thomas Guillet’s partnership with Jean-François Farges. The two men in their forties design low-voltage electronics with onboard artificial intelligence. They are targeting a niche market with very high added value. It is not surprising that the start-up chose to set up not far from the banks of Berre Lagoon with its many Seveso-regulated sites.
Thomas Guillet has been an expat in Singapore since 2012, but he considered returning to France to continue Total’s start-up incubation program. Meanwhile, he continues his business in Asia, where Remedial Performance has developed Sightgate.com, a cloud-based platform for connected manufacturing objects.
Decisive meetings with Ecole des Mines, SCS Cluster, IM2NP, and CEA
“Total asked us to locate in France to confirm the proof of concept. Returning to France was also a personal decision and helped us reach French talent to develop the intelligence onboard our sensors. Given the demand in Indonesia, there is a shortage of skills in electronics and onboard AI,” explains Thomas Guillet.
During a lunch in Singapore, one of his partners, Trusted Objects, advised him to carefully study the Aix-Marseille-Provence ecosystem. “When I arrived in Marseille, I met with the Secured Communicating Solutions (SCS) Cluster and Provence Promotion,” he says.
Everything started in April 2019 and happened very fast. The agency set up a schedule of meetings with qualified points of contact at important R&D firms and institutions. Thanks to Provence Promotion, he found out about Aix-Marseille Université, SATT Sud-Est, and the research lab IM2NP. “I could not have found better! Schools, laboratories, and specialists in electronics, AI, deep learning, cloud computing, and security (Ecole des Mines, SCS Cluster, IM2NP, CEA, etc.). SATT Sud-Est supported me in the maturation projects with laboratories and universities. We will be hiring five engineers in 2020,” he says.
Edge Technologies is in a market that is very capital-hungry. The company has received three loans on trust as part of the Aix-Marseille-Provence seed funding program (AMPA), Initiative Pays D’Aix, and CAAP INNOV’éco run by the Innovation Cluster at Crédit Agricole Alpes-Provence.
“The Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and the SCS Cluster helps us every day to find funding from private and public organizations such as Bpifrance,” adds Thomas Guillet. The region’s accessibility, with Paris just three hours from Aix-en-Provence and many international connections from Marseille-Provence airport, were a deciding factor when choosing where to locate. Just four months after his move, he is very happy with the pleasant climate and the hospitality of the locals.
On October 29, Thomas Guillet will take off for Barcelona. The Catalan capital will host the IoT Solutions World Congress. At the trade show, Edge Technologies will be recognized with the “Invest in Provence” label.