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Start-up - LTU Technologies

A real public service mission to serve society as a whole

Portrait Chahab Nastar

Founded by Chahab Nastar, Sébastien Gilles and Alexandre Winter in 1999, LTU Technologies has, in the space of a few years, acquired an international reputation in the field of image recognition. It was bought by Japanese company JASTEC in 2005.

I did my final work placement as a student engineer in 1991 before studying for a PhD at Inria as part of the Épidaure team (later known as Asclepios). The team, led by Nicholas Ayache, was working on the analysis of medical images. Not only was the subject area of great interest for me, it also had the underlying aim of improving medical treatment, a real public service mission to serve society as a whole.

I completed my PhD in 1994 and joined MIT as a postdoctoral researcher. Moving away from medical research, I worked on facial recognition, a technology that is now found in all sorts of applications from cameras to smartphones. I returned to Inria as a researcher in 1995 to work on image analysis in web-based applications. Before long, I was invited to set up my own project team which went on to become Imedia.

A real public service mission to serve society as a whole

I have always been a practical person. We used the results of our research to build a demonstrator with a graphical interface – almost a finished product in its own right. At international conferences, I was able to see how well we were doing compared with other teams throughout the world. This gave me confidence and, as I met more people, the idea of setting up a business began to grow. This was where Inria-Transfert came in. I was able to take advantage of the Allègre scheme that allows Inria researchers to remain a member of their team while, at the same time, becoming a minority shareholder in a company. Finally, Jean-Marie Hullot, an ex-Inria researcher who had also worked with Steve Jobs, persuaded me to become a full-time entrepreneur and leave Inria in order to devote myself to leading the company.