Amphitrite : Innovative, reliable and accurate ocean data to make the right decisions at sea.
ALEXANDRE STEGNER, CNRS RESEARCHER AND CO-FOUNDER of AMPHITRITE
Alexandre Stegner (Co-founder & CEO) is also a professor at École Polytechnique and has been doing research in physical oceanography for more than 20 years at CNRS. Working with Briac Le Vu (co-founder and research engineer) on the processing of satellite data to analyze the ocean surface, they realized that there was a great potential to use them to create value. They were both in a phase where they wanted to change, to get out of their comfort zone and embark on the adventure of creating a start-up.
The challenge? Several satellites take different measurements and images with different physical sensors. At Amphitrite, they managed to merge some of these data to describe the ocean more accurately in real time! This fusion of multiple data increases the reliability and quality of the satellite observation data they have.
Where does the satellite data come from? Large infrastructures in Europe (Copernicus Marine Service) or in the United States (NOAA) centralize these data which are freely available to research laboratories or private companies. Nevertheless, a certain know-how is required to extract useful information from these raw data.
A TEAM WITH THREE CO-FOUNDERS
The third co-founder is Evangelos Moschos (co-founder and researcher in Artificial Intelligence). He started his PhD at École Polytechnique in 2019 under the supervision of Alexandre. The goal of his PhD was to apply advanced AI methods for oceanographic data processing. As soon as Alexandre and Briac proposed to join the project, he got very involved in the project.
Alexandre underlines Evangelos' ability to combine advanced research work for his thesis with a strong involvement in the development of products that could be commercialized by the company. Evangelos will finish his thesis in October!
The size of the team is currently 7 people: the 3 co-founders, an R&D engineer who has just been hired and 3 interns.
PARTNERS AND CUSTOMERS
Part of Amphitrite's technology is protected by a CNRS patent which was filed in 2021 by the co-founders and for which Amphitrite now has the exclusive license. As the three co-founders all come from the research world, CNRS laboratories remain key research partners for the start-up.
It was during a collaborative ANR project with CLS, a large company in the field of space data processing, that the Amphitrite team realized that there were many applications and a potential market for their research work. CLS and CNES are currently partners in the development of Amphitrite's new products.
Amphitrite has also developed a partnership with Ocean Data Lab, a start-up company also coming from academic research, specialized in the development of satellite data processing and visualization tools.
More recently, the start-up is working in collaboration with Louis Dreyfus Armateur, to estimate the potential savings in time or fuel that short term ocean routing can bring to the routes of some of their ships. This collaboration is essential at this stage of the company's development to ensure that Amphitrite's products are perfectly adapted to the needs of customers or end-users.
X-UP, AN INTENSE PROGRAM
Amphitrite was part of the X-UP Promo #13 (2021) and they created the start-up at the end of 2021. It was a very formative experience for them on the business side, knowing that they come from the academic/research world.
The program allowed them to identify and start targeting many sectors. Today, the most important and promising sector in terms of development is the decarbonization of maritime transport. The pressure to reduce CO2 emissions in this sector will increase. Amphitrite offers unique ocean data, processing and analysis capabilities to define an optimization strategy, based on historical data, or perform real-time optimization of the route and speed of merchant ships.
Advice for the X-UP Promo #14?
A start-up is about being agile, being responsive.
Amphitrite's business plan has changed a lot in the last months to adapt to new conditions and opportunities. It is necessary to test different markets and interact/discuss with customers from the beginning.
The start-up is currently benefiting from the X-TECH offer, the X-Novation program for more mature start-ups, also at the Drahi-X Novation Center. The main reason they joined X-TECH was the excellent environment at École Polytechnique, besides the fact that they already work on campus.
Alexandre's general ambition is to succeed in promoting the great research qualities of the French and European ecosystem in the fields of oceanography and AI, and at the same time to succeed in creating leading companies in their sector. More specifically, the ambition with Amphitrite is to create a strong company at the European level in the field of oceantech and AI.
In Europe, we have the teams, the know-how, the mastery to do great projects, we need to put this forward and exploit it better.
Some important goals for the startup's future :
- Raise funds in the next six months
- Increase our revenue by the end of the year and turn a profit in the first year.
- Finalize a freemium data (and API) offer in 2023, to show the capabilities of short term routing in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Demonstrate that the use of high reliability met-ocean data allows, from now on, a 5 to 15% reduction of CO2 emissions in the shipping sector without modifying existing vessels.