Hanover, March 2006. Pierre Ihmle and Jean-Pierre Gehrig walked into a small Brauerei they had found in the suburbs of Hanover, Germany. They were on a high and determined to celebrate an occasion which many entrepreneurs could only dream of. Their start-up, Cinetis, had just won the European Seals of Excellence in Multimedia and IT at CeBit, the celebrated trade show attended by the crème de la crème of the technology world. This prize was awarded to digital media companies each year for their excellence in innovation marketing. It all started in the Swiss Alps in 2003. The Technical University in Sion had been commissioned to study and develop a proprietary system for converting media between different technological platforms. The goal of this project was to create a system to economically convert video to a digital format on DVD. Jean-Pierre and Pierre, who were both in contact with the research team at the time, recognized the opportunity to leverage this technology to create a business venture which would propose digitalization services for the 8 mm, Super 8 and 16 mm films, formats that had been extremely popular during the seventies. Cinetis was soon formed (www.cinetis.ch) in the neighboring city of Martigny in 2005 to capitalize on the opportunity. A year later, the firm already had 10 employees.
• The case illustrates the challenges of starting a science-based venture, taking it out of the labs and into the markets, with the added complexity of having to deal with a naturally depleting market. The analogies to mining are drawn regularly.
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