When a physics doctor straight out of Silicon Valley crosses paths with a high-potential French company, the results are sometimes surprising. And when a health crisis occurs, his team shows how reactive and creative it can be... for the good of the community.
Dr Jean-François Daviet, CEO of ValsemIndustries SAS, is the product of a curious mix of technology, innovation, management and industry. Born in Annecy, he completed his doctorate in physics at the INPG and finished his thesis at CEA/Leti. In 1996, he left for Silicon Valley, and during the 2000s, Jean-François Daviet shuttled between California and Grenoble. “I had exhausted the joys of this venture, I needed a change," he sums up. But when I returned to the US, I came across an investment opportunity: Valsem SA. He took the plunge... and created his third company, Valsem Industries SAS, on the ashes of the late Valsem SA.
Valsem specialises in flexible industrial packaging with very high levels of protection - corrosion, impact, break-in, etc. - in a variety of fields - aeronautics, energy, heavy industry, pharmaceuticals, defence. But with 22 employees and a turnover of €2m, the results weren’t met. “The structure had potential, but had not innovated for years”, says Jean-François Daviet. I had the technical, managerial and commercial background. He brought the DNA of innovation, as well as a different way of looking at the business; with his team, he focused on developing a range of new solutions - all unique and high value-added - under the ValStrong™ brand. First, there is the world's only weather-resistant product; an inflatable anti-shock cover with independent cells; an anti-tampering film reinforced with steel wires; or an IoT sensor that can be integrated into other packaging, thanks to which, says Jean-François Daviet, "you can follow the protection of your packaged equipment anywhere in the world in real time, directly on your smartphone".
But the businessman stresses, "On our humble scale, everything we do must have a positive impact on the environment and society." And the most recent example is the Activist DESS™ Barrier Mask. Jean-François Daviet recalls, "During the first lockdown, Valsem remained 100% operational to serve its customers, including many critical entities such as Lactalis, Laboratoires Aguettant, or the National Defense; but we asked ourselves how we could contribute even more to the "war effort", and I thought of this felted raw material we use for the military sector. So we developed a simple mask, and within two months we had our UNS1 certification from the DGA for 100 washes. Our hi-tech masks, which are 100% French-made, are the only ones that are also 100% recyclable; they offer the best ecological and economic performance, but also in terms of breathability. What's more, they can be customised. Disposable masks are an environmental disaster! We have created activist masks that can be washed by hand with soap. Ten thousand of them have been donated to Unicef, of which we are a friendly company. So, as well as being agile and innovative, Valsem is indeed a business.