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Our alumni speak: Vinh Ly, co-founder of Kyanos

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A Clermont Ferrand native, Vinh Ly began his studies at a prep school specialized in mathematics and physics before coming to ISAE-SUPAERO, where he earned an engineering degree in 2005. Thanks to his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, he is now President and co-founder of Kyanos Biotechnologies, a green start-up specialized in the production of microalgae. We interviewed him.

Kyanos

Tell us about your professional background?

I went to ISAE-SUPAERO spontaneously because I liked the school’s more generalist approach with a strong aeronautical focus.
After some time working in finance, I worked for Airbus for more than 8 years in the marketing sector (sales engineer), for the A350 XWB program and then for the ACJ division (private jets). This experience really gave me a background in major groups and the importance of processes and internal politics.

What position do you currently hold? What are your missions?

I am the President and co-founder of Kyanos Biotechnologies. I feel that I am here to unite the teams and to provide a vision that all stakeholders can relate to.
While working at Airbus, I had the opportunity to discover biofuels based on microalgae: I saw these organisms’ immense biodiversity and their incredible potential.

Could you tell us a little bit about Kyanos Biotechnologies?

Microalgae have been around for a very long time and they invented photosynthesis. With 2 billion years of R&D behind them, they have developed a highly efficient system for CO2 sequestration and protein production.
For Kyanos (created in 2016), I took an interest in a microalgae that has the rare property of being able to assimilate nitrogen directly from the air. This eliminates the need to produce nitrogen fertilizers and nitrous oxides (300 times worse than CO2).
Furthermore, we developed the patented cyclotrophy technology used to produce the microalgae based on principles imitating natural ecosystems.
Little by little, my associates joined me (including the deputy director of a biotechnology laboratory), then investors and finally customers. We are currently building our new production unit and we have also installed our first algal tree that sequesters carbon and purifies the air of fine particles and NOx.

Watch the Kyanos presentation film produced by Toulouse Métropole.

Where did you get the idea for starting the company?

It started with curiosity, and in the end there was one fundamental question: "Why didn’t anybody think of this before?"
I made use of my knowledge in "complex systems" and I also contacted laboratories and specialists, which enabled me to focus my project better.
Through the company, I am really looking for meaning – producing sustainable food that does not harm the planet, finding ways to sequester carbon, to purify the air... These are the goals that give us a reason to get up in the morning and to keep moving forward when things get difficult, especially in a time of crisis.

What is the outlook for Kyanos’ growth?

We plan to expand with an industrial production unit. These are projects that take time and cannot be deployed as quickly as software or mobile applications. We take our time to secure our development and work on scaling up, which is crucial in biotechnologies.
Of course, the ecological stakes are so important that our ambition for deployment goes far beyond our borders!

What did your studies at ISAE-SUPAERO contribute to you in your experiences?

The engineering philosophy, as I saw it at ISAE-SUPAERO, can be summed up as follows, “be eager to learn and seek to master matter to conquer space.”
My diploma is a real symbol of excellence that gives me real credibility, even in biotechnologies, a field that is a bit far removed from the aerospace sector.
The Institute also taught me techniques and tools that enable me to work quickly on new subjects, to understand the challenges and, lastly, to be responsive and operational.
At ISAE-SUPAERO, I made friends I’m still in contact with 15 years after leaving school!

What left the greatest mark on you during your studies at ISAE-SUPAERO?

ISAE-SUPAERO is a school full of passionate people. Many come here for the best aeronautical training in Europe. A passion is something vibrant, and I can still remember the vibrancy of the campus with all the student potential.
It was the year we won “Questions pour un Champion”, the E=m6 robotics cup, and we were still going to the student center because the computer network was brand new.
In a word, everything was possible!

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