05/12/2021 By Claire Bouleau
Arnaud Guérin created in 2016, with Renaud Allioux, an artificial intelligence software for defence and intelligence. The French Ministry of Defence recently acquired a stake in his company. He is the guest of the Club entrepreneurs Challenges - Grant Thornton.
Arnaud Guérin - Yes. After Centrale, I first wanted to acquire experience. I worked on autonomous cars in Germany, as a consultant at BCG, and then managed the R&D and strategy of the largest branch of Areva (now Orano) before leaving for China. Then I was ready. I was looking for a technological subject, in the service of France, when I met Renaud Allioux, who was working at Airbus, and we founded Earthcube, which became Preligens.
Governments, intelligence agencies and military ministries use our product to monitor strategic sites in war zones or areas of tension. Until now, their analysts monitored satellite images every day, even when nothing was happening. Thanks to AI, our software detects tanks, planes, boats, camps, civilian or armoured vehicles, and alerts the analyst if anything is happening.
Firstly, it serves France to have a French leader at the forefront of this field. Secondly, our ethical charter determines to whom we allow ourselves to sell our software. Several international laws prohibit us from doing so in certain countries. And based on the rankings of countries according to their democracy index, we set ourselves limits.
Our current clients are France, the UK, the USA, NATO and the EU. We are looking at North America, Europe and Asia. Within the next twelve months, we will potentially be present in around fifteen countries.
It's a subscription. Our turnover quadrupled between 2018 and 2019, and between 2019 and 2020, to 5 million euros. We want to stay on a fast growth path and are investing heavily in R&D. Out of 120 employees, we have more than 90 tech profiles, including about 60 data scientists. We will have 220 by the end of the year.
Accelerate internationalisation and diversify the sources of data processed, by taking an interest, for example, in electromagnetic content and the interception of telecommunication signals. Two funds have entered our capital, Ace (Tikehau) and Definvest, an emanation of the Ministry of the Army. This is not a nationalisation, but a guarantee from the State which will not invest much further.
Yes, within a dozen months! We are in a global competition, facing extremely well financed players. In three months, in the United States, in aeronautics and defence, more than 3 billion dollars have been raised for a market valuation of more than 15 billion. We must keep our lead. We are aiming for a turnover of 100 million by 2024 or so. This may involve acquisitions.
Listing Preligens on the stock exchange.