Termatière, a company that upcycles agricultural waste into bio-sourced materials, is in its prototyping phase. Between two tests of vine shoot bleaching, Caroline Grellier is continuing her market studies and strategic reflections.
Sample 12, sample 13, sample 14…
More and more tests with the team from Inra (French National institute in agronomical research) and the incubator of Termatière Montpellier Supagro. Having tried different “natural” vine shoot fractions to vary the results, I am focusing on the processing of the fiber. I am explaining to researchers what I want and their responsibility is to find solutions. Getting back to the creative part of my work feels good!
We managed to bleach the fibers by testing four different methods, the most pertinent of which is quite simply a hydrogen peroxide bath!
New week, new challenge: coloring. After several attempts, we realize that the pigments have difficulty penetrating the fiber. The coloring remains on the surface, it is therefore rather fragile and less visible.
How does one properly dye these particular wood fibers? By removing the lignin? To be tested, with natural pigments of course, and if possible from the viticulture industry. My objective is to have a maximum of samples in order to show the viticulture actors comprehensive proposals for their vine shoot upcycling.
Logistics, the choice of weapons
On the logistic side, my meeting with the farm bureau of the Herault region, very receptive to the project, was profitable. I must now hold a series of meetings with the actors of the area who are in a position to contribute to Termatière, be it for the donation of vine shoots, storage or even the pooling of fabrication tools. I am not always aware of it but… things are moving forward!
At the incubator of l’Ecole des Mines d’Alès!
I have been considering for a few months collaborating with the material research center of the Ecole des mines d’Ales—l’Ecole des mines is a group of engineering schools—, the C2MA, for its expertise on the technical issues of agro-composites. I especially need its know-how on on the characterization of my samples. June 1 marked the end of my assessment period. Having presented my case to the grand jury…my official admission is approved! As the members of jury pointed out, “there’s still work to do”, especially regarding the economic model, but I am filled with enthusiasm!
It’s the major sensitive issue of the project: the income models must remain within the philosophy of Termatière. And that’s where the plot thickens! These last few weeks, the project has continually evolved to find compromises between the initial motivations and the reality of the market. I am faced with a major fact: the potential clients of Termatière are far from those I had imagined. And I have a feeling that the project, by digressing from its social dimension, is losing its meaning. Is this about a reaching a first step, a start-up strategy to develop? To be checked out in the near future.
One last brief market study
Termatière is starting the last phase of its feasibility study! Thanks to the grant “Boost your project” from the Languedoc-Roussillon region Pepite center (student center for innovation, transfer and entrepreneurship), I am launching a second market study, focused on the segments I have “at heart”. Objective? Test my two economic model hypotheses and expose my first samples to the clients’ opinions.
In addition, at the end of June at the Ecole des Mines d’Alès incubator, I will attend a training on production costs in order to reinforce all my economic data. Moving forward, I will have to face the assessment in September of the first Termatière study: the wine industry and its vine shoots. It will then be time to bounce back (if needed…) or set up strategies to speed up what happens next on the right scale!
Distinctive project seeking specific partner
I am taking this opportunity to slip in a personal message: you are a business developer passionate about wine and/or environment, a wine-expert engineer with an innate talent for sales or/and a good logistician, you are itching to create business, you have a sense of responsibility and you share the values upheld by Termatière? Join the adventure by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.