Several employees led by the CEO put on the table a plan based on projects for new simulators. But Venyo’s technology is attracting some envy, mainly abroad.
All hope is not lost for the aeronautical start-up Venyo. A revival project led by a few members of the staff was presented to the curatorship responsible for making an assessment of the assets of the company, which been declared bankrupt a month ago by the Charleroi company court.
Located within the Aéropôle de Charleroi-Gosselies, Venyo developed and marketed a fixed base flight simulator for the Boeing 737 NG, one of the best-selling aircraft in the world. Three simulators were rented (including one by TUI Fly in Zaventem), one sold (in Turkey) and three others were in the completion phase. Buthe 737 MAX crisis and the covid-19 pandemic have completely anesthetized the aviation sector, which resulted in the postponement of several contracts and a lack of liquidity for Venyo. The private and public shareholders having given up reinjecting money for lack of prospects, the carolo SME had to throw in the towel.
Relaunch an activity
The relaunch project is led by the company’s CEO and CFO, Gregory Bronchart, supported by several employees of the company. Objective: to take over the assets, in whole or in part, and to relaunch an activity, with the support of certain shareholders and new investors. “We assembled a team and submitted our offer to the curator,” explains Gregory Bronchart. “This plan, which is a real industrial project, is articulated around three axes.
“The second idea is to launch a new product: a simulator for A320, based on data and licenses from Airbus”
The first is to recover the legacy of the 737 NG simulator. We take over or manage the installed bases and provide customer support. The second idea, is to launch a new product: a simulator for A320, based on flight data and Airbus licenses. We would do that with a launch partner, who we think we have already found, if the funds obviously follow. The third thing is to develop a simulator for 737 MAX, based on Boeing data. We are also looking for a launch partner. “The CEO estimates that it would take a little more than 4 million euros to support this plan, which would take several months to materialize, time to convince new shareholders.
A company acting on behalf of the curator communicated information which had remained confidential until then.
This project, which has the advantage of including an employment component, however competes with other asset takeover offers. This is where things get tricky. According to Frédéric Baldan, a former economic intelligence advisor who supported Venyo, some of these offers, which are vastly superior in financial terms, emanate from companies linked to foreign intelligence services, who have contacted the curator to buy back what should be considered as Walloon strategic assets. The company acting on behalf of the curator “visited the workshops, communicated information until then remained confidential and allowed to inspect simulators, to foreign companies” worries Frédéric Baldan, who specifies that he is acting in a personal capacity. .
Belgian intelligence alerted
According to the specialist, one of the interested companies even asked the curatorship to have access, before a possible takeover, to a software source code that required years of R&D. However, this is “an industrial secret with shared ownership with the Walloon Region”, which has helped the start-up carolo, specifies Frédéric Baldan. The latter adds that he drew the attention of the Belgian intelligence services to the dangers of technology transfer and damage to Wallonia’s strategic interests. Also warned of these risks, as well as of the existence of a recovery plan, the Walloon Minister of the Economy, Willy Borsus, indicates “to follow the situation very closely”.