Marion Canale: "We owe our successes to the sheer force of our work"

For World Intellectual Property Day, dedicated this year to women, the INPI celebrates the inspiring journey of Marion Canale, winner of the Be A Boss 2022 competition. With her start-up Cearitis, created in March 2020, the engineer in 26-year-old biotechnologies protects tree crops with natural alternatives to insecticides.
Marion Canale: "We owe our successes to the sheer force of our work"

Can you tell the genesis of your company?

My grandfather, an olive grower in our native village in Italy, had to deal with the problem of bactrocera oleae, better known as the olive fly. One year, the infestations* were such that he lost 80% of his crops.
Of this very personal story was first born my subject of study, the fly of the olive, to which I devoted three years. Then, by deepening my research, I noticed that the problem of agricultural pests was not only the misfortune of my grandfather but that it extended to the French, European and global scale. It is in this context that I created, with my partner and cousin Solena Canale Parola, Cearitis. Our company develops so-called biocontrol solutions to protect tree crops against pests**.

What made you want to start a business?

It was fundamental that my career had meaning and that it reflected my values.
Le support of my family, particularly financially, was also decisive in the development of my entrepreneurial project.
In addition, an internship carried out within a pharmaceutical group made me realize that the large group strategy was not in line with my professional aspirations.

What obstacles, as a woman or for another reason, have you encountered?

Le funding and regulations are the most important obstacles. Although our natural products are eligible for the organic label, the certification processes are very long because they are the responsibility of the European Commission. It is therefore necessary to wait between five and eight years.
As women, our interlocutors will expect much more justification from us than if we had been men. Especially when we raise private funds through networks of business angels, investors for whom we had to provide a lot of technical proof of the effectiveness of our product. Some make sure that we have not falsified results and go so far as to ask us about the identity of the people who validated our file. Is it because we are women, because we are young, or a combination of both? Still, the feeling of constant questioning is present.

What does intellectual property mean to you?

In my engineering school, we were somewhat sensitized to intellectual property (IP). At the end of our course, we knew, for example, the patentability criteria for an innovation.
What I discovered while developing the Cearitis project is the whole patent defense strategy. A crucial aspect, which implies knowing your innovation well, also knowing the innovations of your competitors. And above all to know what the market is capable of. If a competitor has a headquarters in the Philippines, that I have not protected my innovation in this country: will my competitor be able to steal my innovation from me only because he has an address in the Philippines?
The strategic aspect of IP is really exciting. We learn this in particular thanks to the experts of the INPI, whosevery personalized support. Frequent meetings with our business manager are invaluable to me. I can ask her for questions or when I have a specific need at the moment. She always directs me towards the device best suited to my situation.

Within your company, what levers do you activate to reduce inequalities between women and men?

60% of our employees are women, more than half of whom hold a management position. We offer our employees training with coaches specialized in developing talent. This is to show that everyone has them, that everyone is able to assert them.
As leaders, we are committed to conveying these messages: we are no less intelligent than men and our successes, we owe them to the sheer force of our work.

You were the Be A Boss Sud 2022 winner. What do you think of this type of initiative to promote female entrepreneurship?

Women's competitions such Be A Boss are effective mechanisms for promoting women's entrepreneurship.
In my opinion, women should also be able to compete where men compete. This is to show that for the same level of requirement and know-how, we can do it too!

Which woman, famous or not, has particularly inspired you?

My marketing teacher in 5e year, Mylene Louicellier, who also ran the entrepreneurship course. With her, there was no discussion about the legitimacy of a woman. Credibility is acquired as a human being, as an expert and not as a gender. She inspired me strong values ​​around rigor and the quest for results. I owe him my leitmotif: If I want to achieve such a goal, this is what I have to put in place ". Many thanks to her!

Cearitis in numbers
  • Year established: 2020
  • Workforce: 7
  • Turnover: 50K€
  • Brands: 4
  • Patents: 2

* Penetration and fixation in the body of a microbial parasite.
** All birds, rodents, insects, etc. which destroy cultivated plants, in particular by consuming them or transmitting various diseases to them.