The Overboat, electric and flying boat, made in Occitania, hit but not sunk

The Overboat, electric and flying boat, made in Occitania, hit but not sunk

L'Overboat avait rencontré un succès d'estime, il se conduisait sans permis et permettait de voler. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

La société héraultaise Néocean, dont la chaîne de production se trouvait à Sète, a été liquidée en mars, son stock est mis aux enchères. Mais le brevet de la start-up, qui a créé un catamaran écolo et innovant, vient d’être racheté.

The company Néocean, based between Montpellier, Sète and Toulouse, will not see its dream of industrializing its 100% electric flying boat, the Overboat, come true. Launched in 2019, it filed for bankruptcy at the end of March, its ten employees were made redundant, and its stock of industrial equipment is being auctioned this Thursday, July 11 (read opposite).

“But the patents and the Overboat brand are being bought back”, reveals Vincent Dufour, the Montpellier engineer behind this promising but unfinished adventure.

On paper, it had everything to revolutionize the 100% Occitanie blue economy. Or, in partnership, in particular, with the University of Montpellier but also the IUT of Nîmes and the laboratories of Perpignan, the design of a sort of small catamaran or jet ski. It can be driven without a license, with a controller like in video games and with this double particularity.

First, to fly on the water thanks to self-regulated foil systems: by gaining speed, limited to 28 km/h, the machine rises but its stability prevents any fall. Then to be entirely electric while being low energy consumer and silent, far from motor scooters with summer noise pollution.

"The French market is not buoyant enough"

Weary: with prestigious awards (grand prize for innovation but also for sustainable mobility in Occitanie or GreenTech Innovation labeling by the Ministry of Ecological Transition) the Covid crisis aggregated, then that the delay in delivery of electronic components, aggravated by the surge in the price of raw materials linked to the conflict in Ukraine.

Despite fundraising of 800,000 € in October 2022, financial difficulties have accumulated. And this, while the order book, filled, had made it possible to sell around fifty Overboats, with rental companies, hotels, in six European countries (Spain, Italy, Greece) or even for a mega yacht in China.

"We have sold a lot more abroad. The French market is not buoyant enough, we are restricted by regulations for power and the Jet-ski bases, which nevertheless run on thermal power, are subsidized… hellip; It’is unfair competition", denounces Vincent Dufour.

"With 5M€ we would have gotten out of the impasse"

However, it was above all the absence of a source of financing which caused the company to fail, as did competition in a rapidly developing sector.

"We needed to raise funds between 3 M€ and 10 M€ to target the international market and move to industrial production, with 5 M€ we would have gotten out of the impasse", continues Vincent Dufour. "And then in February, we were "planted& quot; by an investor and partner on the engineering project."

Today, the former oceanographer recognizes his failure – "Neocean is dead and buried" – but is counting on the French innovation company, whose name will be given very soon, to extend the technology of the Overboat.

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