Alpha MOS: Reinventing Senses
Recreating the human eye, nose and tongue is no longer a pipe dream!
Artificial sense organs such as the human nose could bring many advantages for humankind. That way, you can have a machine or computer detect and measure the composition and contamination of whatever you’d want. You can also calibrate it to be more sensitive than the real thing!
Jean-Christophe Mifsud had that exact idea over 20 years ago when he founded Alpha MOS. After studying chemistry and chemical engineering at one of France's top universities, he realized the potential artificial sensory analysis devices would have.
Alpha MOS has developed an artificial nose, eye, and tongue that are used in quality control, R&D, and many other areas all around the world.
Stick with this story to find out how Jean-Christophe managed to recreate and even improve multiple human organs.
A Jack of All Trades and Master of Some
Jean-Christophe Mifsud was born on January 8 1963 in France. Growing up in his hometown of Toulouse, he was often described as a quiet and ambitious child. He excelled in school but mostly kept to himself. However, he had a tight-knit group of friends that he trusted and was loyal to.
After high school, Jean-Christophe attended his hometown University of Toulouse, where he studied Organic and Analytical Chemistry. This is one of France’s best universities and Jean-Christophe managed to graduate at the top of his class as a valedictorian. The diploma for Chemical Engineering he got here would be essential later in his life.
However, Jean-Christophe was a real renaissance man, even from his childhood days. His interest changed constantly and would always want to try new things. So it’s not too shocking that he went back to school immediately after graduating from Toulouse University. This time, he attended ESSEC Business Schools, majoring in Marketing and Sales.
To finish off his formal education process, Jean-Christophe moved to the US for a few years to specialize in Neurochemistry and Analytical Chemistry at Princeton University. This was what tied his education altogether and what would influence him the most. During his studies at Princeton, he learned of the potential of sensory analysis technologies and this eventually led him to form Alpha MOS.
With his education wrapped up, Jean-Christophe decided it was time for him to finally enter the workforce. He started his professional journey working as a Financial Analyst for Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, a pharmaceutical company in France. Being his first job, it was difficult for him at first, but he quickly got the hang of it and improved in no time.
After a few short years, Jean-Christophe wanted to start a business on his own. That’s what he did in 1989 when he started EUROPHOR, a company specializing in neurochemistry research. There he acted as the CEO for 4 years, learning valuable lessons about leadership and innovation.
With all the practical experience he accumulated over the years, he decided that he should branch out and set up the foundations for a different company. That is how, in 1993, Alpha MOS came to be. This time, Jean-Christophe had a lot more expertise in managing a business and remained the CEO for an impressive 23 years.
In 2016, he wanted to move on and try new things. He left Alpha MOS into the capable hands of Harve Martin and took over as CEO of Ellona. He remains in charge of this air monitoring company to this day, relying on his decades of experience to guide and improve it as much as he can.
From Alpha to Omega
In 1992, in his hometown of Toulouse, Jean-Christophe Mifsud established Alpha MOS with the aim of developing an electronic nose. Being both a competent chemical engineer and an experienced businessman, he knew exactly what he was doing.
Only a year after being founded, in 1993, the company released its first electronic nose. Even though this wasn’t the most optimized, it was the first of its kind to be offered on the market. It was also a proof of concept, showing its usefulness in a period in time when demand was high for such innovative products.
Then, in 2000, ASTREE was released, an electronic tongue. This device is used in the industry for quality control and to make sure that new food and drink products have the desired taste. It is far more objective and reliable than the human equivalent, and can even detect ingredients and chemicals that most people would miss.
Ten years later, in 2010, Alpha MOS came out with IRIS - a visual analyzer that can measure and evaluate a whole host of different properties, like shape and color. Those advantages were something the food industry was highly interested in.
The latest product the company launched hit the market in 2018. It’s an e-nose called HERACLES Neo, a successor of HERACLES I and II, the two previous models released in 2005 and 2011. The company refined the product and optimized it even further.
The HERACLES Neo is arguably the company’s flagship product. This smell and gas analyzer is used by many food and beverage companies to develop new aroma profiles and to ensure high quality in products. It can also be used to analyze air quality and air safety at home or at the workplace.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Alpha, as it had a few issues along the way. Most notably, it had some logistical problems with its double-blind experiments when developing HERACLES. But thanks to Jean-Christophe’s prior industry experience, Alpha managed to solve that before it caused any further issues.
Finances Make Ideas Work
Even though funding was difficult in the early days of Alpha MOS, it wasn’t long until it got its hands on its first capital.
In 1998, Alpha opened its listing on the Paris stock exchange. Shortly after, the company opened an IPO as well on April 12, 2000. This was a big deal as it could gather the resources it would need to continue its R&D process to develop better sensory analysis equipment.
On November 16, 2016, the company opened a Post-IPO Equity funding round, managing to raise over €3.5M. Additionally, the company’s revolutionary ideas attracted the attention of investors, such as Jolt Capital.
The Future Looks (And Smells) Bright
Today, Alpha MOS continues to focus on improving its products and growing its business even more. From the very beginning, the company’s initial target remained the same - owning the industrial market. Now, Alpha MOS holds about 40% of the market share in artificial sensory analysis technology, however, it wants to increase that number and show that it offers the best.
Standing tall among industry rivals like Ouster, CSG Solutions, and Skydio, helped Alpha MOS withstand the test of time, garnering finances and brainstorming fresh ideas to stir the tech world of today.
Over its 30 year existence, the company has grown quite a lot. Its headquarters remain in Jean-Christophe’s native Toulouse, France, holding another 3 subsidiaries in Hanover (USA), Tokyo (Japan), and Shanghai (China). A total of 49 employees work across these four offices. Additionally, the company has over 30 distributors worldwide.
As for what the future holds, Alpha MOS has said that it wants to continue improving its products. Currently, it is undergoing heavy research into ways to integrate a new generation of gas micro-sensors into its products. This will allow it to start offering its devices to the general public, making its products span beyond industry-grade products.
Thanks to Alpha MOS, we might soon have smart fridges that tell us how fresh the contents inside are or stoves that can tell us when our food is finished cooking.
We can sense a promising future here.