Neo P1, the first biotechnological plant that cleans indoor air

“For a long time, advances in technology have harmed our environment. Our team considers nature to be the most sophisticated technology, immediately creates Neoplants CEO and co-founder Lionel Mora. Rather than consuming our human talent, it is now important to consider it as an ally and use it by innovating to work with it. To achieve this, he and his assistant Patrick Torbey, in charge of innovative product R&D at the Entrepreneur First incubator in Station F in Paris, envisioned a DNA-modified home or office pollutant plant. capturing not only CO2 but also the four main indoor air pollutants.

Patrick Torbey, CTO, left, and Lionel Mora, CEO, right, founders of Neoplants, a startup born in 2018 at Station F in Paris. – Neoplants

After four years of research, Neoplants is about to take pre-orders for its initial product, the Neo P1, in the first quarter of 2023. This biotech plant should enter the world at CES in Las Vegas, where the two co-founders plan to present it. “This is a breakthrough innovation that combines deep technology, biotechnology and is aimed at the general public. We don’t fit into any box, “re-analyses Lionel Mora. He hopes this technological summit to spread his message: “Biology is the most advanced technology in the world and it must be part of the solutions to fight global warming tomorrow. »

“Working on a project that makes sense and has a positive impact”

The two heads of the Neoplants startup met in September 2018 and the idea took shape immediately. “I learned how to use genome editing techniques that allow us to change an organism’s genetics, add or delete traits. I wanted to show the power of these tools to positively impact the world and people’s lives,” says Patrick Torbey, who holds a PhD in genetics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in rue d’Ulm.

For his part, Lionel Mora worked for four years at Google in London, where he worked on the introduction of new product categories. “As a good self-respecting Millennial, I wanted to work on a project that made sense and had a positive impact. Back then at station F we had a lot of beautiful plants around us and the click happened very quickly when we talked. For us, the noblest and most powerful function given to plants was to purify the air. We have not come back from that conversation. Neoplants were born.

A laboratory is about to open in Saint-Ouen

Then began four years of development for the two entrepreneurs, marked by the first fundraising in the summer of 2019 and the second in the summer of 2021. Lionel Mora remembers. The first collaboration with the Paris-Saclay Institute of Plant Biology allows them to move forward. “It was a real chance to rub shoulders with French public research teams on a daily basis and benefit from the infrastructures that have been in place for three years,” continues the co-founder of Neoplants.

“From our first fundraiser, we had the luxury of being able to choose our investors, especially Silicon Valley fund True Ventures, which had never invested in a French startup. At that time, our main goal was to prove that our idea was technically feasible,” adds Lionel Mora. Two years later, Neoplants starts raising a second round of funding for a project that is about to be realized: opening its headquarters in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis) and building one of the most advanced biotechnology laboratories. “We are now almost 25 people and it was important for us to plan for a longer period in independent buildings,” said the CEO.

Why won’t the Neo P1 be available in France?

If they claim that their “neoplants” are really technological products, the two entrepreneurs do not lose sight of their main goal. “Today, we are developing the first generation of biotechnological plants that can not only capture pollutants from the air, but also remove it. The idea is to use this first use case to develop key technologies and then move from indoor to outdoor, from air quality to climate,” they say.

But in 2023, the first Neoplants product, which cannot be found in France, Neo P1, will be launched in the American market. “The European regulation currently takes three and a half to four years from the submission of the marketing authorization file. Patrick Torbey regrets that forever for a box like ours. We are two French founders, currently our lab and all R&D are located in France, we bring in talent from all over the world, but we can’t wait too long to bring our product to market. “Even if the French Tech Green20 program, of which we are a part, has brought us a lot, it is more pragmatic to launch ourselves in the United States, where, unlike the European Union, regulation is carried out only on scientific grounds. enters the political voice the game ”, adds Lionel Mora.

While we wait for the Neo P1 to arrive on our side of the Atlantic, plant enthusiasts who routinely kill them with too much or too little water can take inspiration from Neoplants’ user experience. “We added a reservoir to the pot, which has two functions: to maximize the air exchange between the plant and the substrate and to allow independent watering for two weeks.” In short, a dream solution to reduce the risk of death of our dear plants by 90-95%, according to Neoplants experts.

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