The intrepid investor has put 10 million euros into Inocel, a promising start-up making hydrogen fuel cells.
Following his explorations of the Amazon, the North Pole, and the Himalayas, Mike Horn has begun his latest journey in… Isère. However, this one is carried out with suits and white jackets rather than a parka and skis. The well-known explorer has established a start-up near Grenoble that is creating a ground-breaking hydrogen fuel cell. He goes back and says, “It all started with my participation in the Paris-Dakar in 2020. I reasoned that using automobiles without fossil fuels would make the race more advantageous. The answer was hydrogen, but there were no fuel cells strong enough for it.
In order to work with the Innovation Laboratory for New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials, Mike Horn then approached Grenoble, the European hydrogen valley (CEA-Liten). François Legalland, the director, said that it “was a method to use our progress on this energy.” Researchers work on the project and create a ground-breaking device that uses hydrogen fuel cells to produce power that has never been seen before.
Despite the oil crisis, the market is booming
Faced with this opportunity, Mike Horn partnered with former Akka Technologies CEO Mauro Ricci to invest 10 million euros in the startup Inocel. It moved in at the end of 2022 under the Chartreuse cliffs in the Grenoble suburbs, where the adventurous will presumably be able to climb in between meetings. About thirty staff and a future production facility, from which their first hydrogen fuel cells will be produced by 2024, are housed within the company’s premises.
They are relatively little in size. Jules Billiet, the youthful CEO of Inocel, defines it as a little cube that is 50 cm on a side. A 44-ton truck may be moved by a single pile, and more piles can increase the power. Therefore, it is designed for heavy-duty vehicles, transport vessels, and generators. The energy crisis has given the market a boost.