Their milk-based material is water-soluble, biodegradable and edible and will find applications in single-use products, packaging or construction. “I like to move forward with my eyes open,” says Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff, co-founder and CEO of Lactips.
In three and a half years, the start-up she created in 2014 with two other partners succeeded in two fundraising rounds, developed several “proofs of concepts” and filed five patents. They launched a production workshop and formed a partnerships with BASF and the Dutch food ingredients supplier IMCD. Then, she recruited 40 employees, half of them working in R&D.
Her products have hit the market, and will generate their first € million in sales in a few months. 10.000 ton are expected to leave their factory by end of 2020.
At the origin of the adventure is a meeting with Frédéric Prochazka. He’s a researcher at the Jean-Monnet University of Saint-Etienne and is now scientific director of Lactips. He patented a casein-based plastic in 2010. Casein is a protein extracted from milk, a by-product of the manufacture of butter or cheese.
Bio-based, this material is also soluble, 100% biodegradable and edible. Qualities that Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff immediately identified, because, she knows plastics.
She was born 47 years ago in Argentina as the daughter of Spanish immigrants. She graduated as a plastics engineer from Itech de Lyon and managed a project for automotive equipment during ten years. She then created a photovoltaic company in Spain that she sold two years later.
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Then she joined Sémaphores consulting in Lyon in 2009. “To control the tactical side,” she says. And she has expanded her background in finance and innovation at EM Lyon. After an “honest strategic analysis”, she went for it.
Edible Sausage Skin
The properties of Lactips‘ “lactoplastic” will lead to many solutions and new markets. First of all, the replacement of single-use plastics in 2021, then sealing solutions for building and public works. She will also do the coating of dishwashers tabs since BASF entered their capital.
Lactips film makes conventional plastics recyclable. When it comes to food contact packaging, “most major brands will replace plastics,” adds Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff. As for edible plastic, “this breakthrough innovation will lead to new products where there is no psychological barrier to ingestion”.
So many new opprotunities for Lactips! From the packet of rice that dissolves in the pan to the edible skin of sausages, ideas bubble. “Many brands want to work with us “, says this mother of two children. Leader in the social fibre, Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff is pleased to have recruited “second chances”: “They’re committed and advance with open eyes”, she says.
New Markets created by laws
Lactips is grateful … to the European Parliament first, which voted the end of single-use plastics. Straws, coffee taps or cotton buds is a one billion euros market that we can access with our zero impact material; and … to the French government for making recycling mandatory in France by 2025.
Published on capital.fr