Already to its credit, the filing and publication of 10 patents on continuous processes
Edith Lecomte-Norrant, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, founded Ipsomedic in October 2019. Her company designs innovative solutions for the development of chemical molecules and proteins that are sold to pharmaceutical laboratories. Her innovations, which are patented or have patents pending, make it possible to save time and lower the cost of developing and producing active ingredients used to manufacture medicines while reducing the volume of waste. Just a few months after settling in Marseille, she is in negotiations with regional biotech firms and multinational big pharma companies. Thanks to support from Provence Promotion and the Eurobiomed competitiveness cluster, Ipsomedic plans to create four jobs in the short term.
Edith Lecomte-Norrant’s reputation extends beyond the borders of France. That’s normal. As the first woman to resign from the CNRS in the late 1990s, her career led her to Europe, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and China ‒ countries where she worked for the biggest pharmaceutical laboratories and chemical groups.
The scientist is, in fact, still commuting between Brussels, where she held her last position as Director of Innovation-Technology-Sciences, and Marseille, where she chose to open her own company Ipsomedic.
“Several factors inspired me to opt for Marseille. When I taught at the École Centrale de Marseille, I discovered the area’s biopharmaceutical sector, potential customers, offices, a warm welcome and a dynamic ecosystem with solid scientific talent,” explains Edith Lecomte-Norrant. Those insights matched up on all points with a presentation on the region given a few months earlier, when she first encountered Provence Promotion at Bio 2019 in Philadelphia.
A ground-breaking innovation in biochemistry is in the works in Marseille
The high-flying scientist, who just joined the very elite ranks of the national panel of experts thealchemists.fr, is never short on humor. She adds, “Here we have sea, sun and science!” With more than 10 patents pending or issued on continuous processes, she now aims to persuade the big laboratories and biotech companies of the value of her discoveries. “These companies are experts in biology, but not in biochemical engineering”, explains the molecule expert. “This makes it possible to speed up the development of medicines and reduce production costs. For the anti-seizure drug Brivac, the continuous process takes five hours versus 22 hours in discontinuous mode,” she observes.
She has been settled into her laboratory at Saint-Jérôme since October and already employs an R&D engineer. She has her sights set on recruiting four master’s students in 2020 and one thesis student she trained.
The economic development agency Provence Promotion is providing support with financing and obtaining subsidies. Bpifrance, CEPAC and Crédit Agricole have already agreed to finance this promising start-up in the Provence region. Edith Lecomte-Norrant was at Parc Chanot on December 10 and 11 as part of the BioFit trade show. There she spoke about the region’s appeal and invited Europe to follow the trend sparked three years ago by China and the United States*, which makes it possible to practice personalized, preventive medicine based on genomic data and driven by artificial intelligence.
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* A movement stemming from the American 4P approach in 2013/2014 (predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory medicine) and China’s 100,000 Genomes Project in 2017.