Pre-Seed Workshop - New York
Pre-Seed Workshop - New York
Pre-Seed Workshop - New York
"The Pre-Seed Workshop is the best approach I have seen to the challenging issue of determining if academic researchers have an idea that can become a commercially successful venture."

Sean Boykevisch
Senior Licensing Associate
Stony Brook University, Long Island

Pre-seed workshop alumnus Yann Cotte finds success

with Cell-Explorer technology


Yann Cotte is one of Pre-Seed Workshop’s distinguished international alumni. Hiscompany, Nanolive, has made great strides since late 2012 when he attended the PSW in Lausanne, Switzerland. We spoke with Lisa Pollaro, Communications Manager at Nanolive, to get the scoop. The company develops a microscope called the 3D Cell Explorer, which allows researchers to explore the inside of a living cell in 3D and without the need of any labelling. The Cell Explorer (middle right) is tomography-based, and works like an MRI scanner. It performs a rotational scan around a cell to produce a 3-dimensional, refraction index based representation of the cell’s morphology (example:below right).

Cotte’s pursuit of this technology as a product to sell to othershappened by accident.  When working previously as a physicist, he began developing 3D cell imaging “tools” to help himself with his own research. While applying to get his paper published on Nature Photonics, one of the reviewers proposed that he applied his technology oncells.  When the paper was finally published, members of Cotte’s field and popular science journalists enthusiastically wanted to learn more about this technology!

Given the hype surrounding his emerging technology, Cotte felt it might be beneficial to get in touch with entrepreneurs to dissect the concept of a 3D cell imaging business. So, he decided to attend Pre-Seed Workshop. Cotte was immediately impressed with the founder and then-facilitator Mark Wilson’s knowledge.He says, “Wilson’s technology commercialization concepts were easy to digest. This helped me to simplify my product design and business concept. It made things much easier.”

Since attending Pre-Seed Workshop, Cotte’s company has seen rapid success. Nanolive has successfully closed its first financing round with accrued capitalization of CHF 2.7 M thanks to twenty-five F&F investors and its initial founding (in addition to CHF 550’000 in grants and the support of two PhD theses, infrastructure and laboratory space and filing of IP). The company is currently comprised of seven employees working out of two offices, and the compnay is now taking orders for their living-cell viewing machine! (

Overall, Cotte was inspired by Wilson’s experience. The advice that Wilson shared at Pre-Seed Workshop taught Cotte to question everything about himself as an entrepreneur—himself, his choices, and his company. Pollaro says that this helped Cotte identify Nanolive’s strengths and weaknesses as a company and focus limited resources on key priorities. We’re excited to see what happens next for our friends at Nanolive!

Want to learn more about Pre-Seed Workshop alumni, their experiences, and progress? Check out our Alumni Stories by clicking here.