- In Montpellier, the start-up Koovea has been marketing since 2019 a system allowing real-time monitoring of the temperatures of so-called “heat-sensitive” products during their transport or storage.
- The company has multiplied its turnover tenfold every year since its inception. The global pandemic places it at the heart of the vaccination campaign.
- This public health issue is coupled with a commercial issue: a report estimates the pharmaceutical industry’s annual losses at 35 billion euros for products that need to be kept cold at constant temperatures.
How to ensure the cold chain for millions of doses of vaccines in transit around the world? In this vast market, crucial to ensure the effectiveness of treatments – especially against Covid-19, a start-up in Montpellier is on the front line.
If the cold chain is broken, the entire effectiveness of the fight against the pandemic is destroyed. “We ensure constant monitoring of the temperature of the products. A small energetically autonomous box, permanently connected to the cellular network, is installed in the containers. At the slightest problem, it triggers an alert for the customer who therefore has permanent control over the materials, whether during transport or storage, ”explains Adrien Content, co-founder and president of Koovea.
A public health issue
The public health issue is enormous: if the cold chain is broken, the vaccine becomes ineffective. Or, worse yet, dangerous for the patient. Koovea is not only involved in the fight against Covid-19. Its innovation ensures, for example, the transport of pharmaceutical products used by the NGO The Mitchell Group against the Ebola virus, which is once again affecting Africa. “Any break in the cold chain can cause the deterioration of the curative treatment based on immunoglobulins”, specifies the American NGO.
For the pharmaceutical industry, the stakes are also financial. The financial loss of heat-sensitive products is estimated at 35 billion euros each year worldwide. It is most often linked to power outages. In the past, these were only detectable upon receipt of the products, after inspection of the USB keys which allow mandatory temperature monitoring. “Our patented system enables immediate action in the event of an anomaly”, underlines Adrien Content.
Turnover multiplied by ten each year
Incubated at the BIC (Business Innovation Center) in Montpellier, the company has been expanding rapidly since its first steps two years ago. It has increased its turnover tenfold each year to reach 2 million euros in the last consolidated financial year. And unlike a global economy in the midst of a crisis, its activity has been boosted by the pandemic. “Our notoriety had already enabled us to work with a hundred clients. We should triple that number by the end of the year ”.
Koovea employs around fifteen people in Montpellier, of which around 70% are in research and development. Workforce expected to double quickly, while the company is considering fundraising to support its growth.