Xavier Duportet of Eligo Bioscience on Science Entrepreneurship and Founding Hello Tomorrow, the World’s Largest Deep Tech Conference

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This is the 10th episode of SOSV’s podcast ‘Deep Tech: From Lab to Market’, where Founders and Investors share how ‘deep tech’ innovation can go from lab to market. It is available on Apple Podcast and other platforms. Follow us on Twitter at @LabToMarket and get notified of new episodes by signing up to the Lab to Market newsletter.

Ask Xavier anything on LinkedIn here

About Xavier Duportet, Hello Tomorrow, Deeptech Founders and Eligo Bioscience

First, let’s state I have been a fan of Xavier since I was first invited to speak about hardware startups at his Hello Tomorrow conference in 2016. I was impressed by the production and general vibe. I’ve attended every year since then and it only got better (trivia: on that day, I also remember another man who talked about embracing tech entrepreneurship. He everybody’s hand on his way to the stage where he was speaking before me. Can you guess who that was?).

Now, Xavier Duportet turned out to be more than the founder of what is probably the world’s largest deep tech event. He’s also a synthetic biology PhD with an unusual path:

  • He was born in France, grew a passion for insects (especially ants — he hosts a colony of leaf-cutter ants from Trinidad in his office) that lead him to an internship in a genetics lab at age 12, which ignited his passion for science.

  • Fast forward a few years, after a first startup attempt, he earned his PhD across multiple labs including a stay at MIT which had a profound effect on his mindset and understanding of ecosystems.

  • He came back to France and became a catalyst in the emerging deep tech community by founding in 2011 a non-profit called Hello Tomorrow to bring together scientists, investors and corporates. Today, the event is — afaik — the largest deep tech conference in the world and highlights every year 500 of the top early stage startups.

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The next summit will take place in Paris and online in October 2020

  • In 2018, he co-founded Deeptech Founders, a 6-months program that already helped hundreds of global scientists and engineers to accelerate their startup projects.

  • Today, he is the founder of Eligo Bioscience, a biotech startup using CRISPR to create a new class of biotherapeutic agents to selectively intervene on the microbiome. Eligo raised $27.4M from French and US investors including Khosla Ventures and Seventure Partners.

  • Finally, Xavier has been selected as a World Economic Forum Pioneer and Young Global Leader, as well as one of the top innovators under 35 by MIT.

Overview

  • In this episode, Xavier shares ideas about science entrepreneurship and the importance of a product-driven mindset.

  • We also discuss how co-founders need be complementary, and combine technology with storytelling and networks to succeed.

  • Finally, he shares his hopes about deep tech’s ability to solve critical problems that digital alone can’t solve, and the importance of accessible role models to support this mission (his historical role model could be called ‘the Edison of biology’ — here is one of his key patents).

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References Mentioned

  • Eligo Bioscience, Xavier’s startup developing new therapies for the microbiome.

  • Deeptech Founders, a training program for global founders.

  • Hello Tomorrow, organizers of the largest deep tech event in the world.

  • Tim Lu, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT

  • The Story of Louis Pasteur. A documentary from 1936 on this unique science entrepreneur.

  • A brief history of Genentech, the first publicly-owned biotech company (IPO in 1980 thanks notably to its groundbreaking synthetic insulin).

Previous Episodes

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Resources on Deep Tech

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