Board of directors and Strategic Advisors

The members of the Board of Directors and the Strategic Advisors are business leaders with a solid experience of business management in large companies, SMEs and start-ups active in high-tech industries.

Board members

Alexander Valkenberg

Chairman of the Board
Over 20 years of experience in various senior executive management roles in technology companies

Alexander Valkenberg is currently CEO of France & South-West Europe at SPS (formerly Swiss Post Solutions) and member of the global executive board.

Since he started at Swiss Post Solutions in 2009, he has held several senior management positions at Swiss Post Solutions, including Group COO, from 2012 to 2015.

He has been a founder & CEO of Vigilint, a start-up focusing on an IT platform allowing for patent search, classification and economic intelligence from 2006 to 2009.

Alexander has been a Vice President & founding team at Inquam/Zappholdings, a private equity fund investing in telecom assets based on CDMA technology throughout Europe from 2001 to 2006. He also held the role of CEO of Dolphin Telecom, a cellular operator in France, from 2002 to 2003.

Alexander has worked as a Senior Associate in Investment Banking (Mergers & Acquisitions) at JP Morgan in New York City and London from 1997 to 2001.

Alexander started his career as a Visiting Researcher in theoretical astrophysics at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (New York City) and Cornell University (Ithaca) with a focus on star formation models and the role of molecular oxygen in star formation in dark interstellar molecular clouds.

Alexander holds a MSc in theoretical astrophysics, nuclear physics and molecular physics from the RWTH Aachen (Germany) and an MBA from the Collège des Ingénieurs, Paris (France).

Sophie Humbert

Board Member
Senior Executive with 20 years of experience in the medtech industry

Sophie Humbert is a Senior Executive with 20 years of experience in the medtech industry, with a strong track record of bringing innovation from ideation to market. As a driven and structured entrepreneur, she has been CEO, COO and board member of a number of medtech start-ups in the cardiovascular, endovenous and oncology fields.

Since 2017, she is Chief Operating Officer at LimFlow, a pioneer in the development of minimally invasive technology for the treatment of chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI), a severe form of peripheral artery disease (PAD). 

Prior to joining LimFlow, Sophie was the COO of ART (Terumo), an innovative and multicultural company designing bioresorbable stents for cardiovascular applications. She helped the company earn CE mark for their first-generation product and also develop the second-generation drug coated bioresorbable stent.

As CEO of CermaVein, Sophie successfully led the company from an early development stage, through CE marking, and to commercialization in several markets. Earlier in her career, Sophie held R&D leadership positions within Cerma and Bracco Diagnostics.

Sophie holds a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Geneva, a master’s degree in management from EM Lyon and a Pharma doctorate from the University Claude Bernard in Lyon.

Alain Barbal

CEO & Board Member
Over 40 years of experience in the management of industrial companies and innovative projects

Alain was eager to bring to Novostia his long international experience in the management of industrial companies, technological innovation and the development of international partnerships. He has in-depth knowledge of medical device production, microelectronic circuits and microsystems.

Alain has worked for multinationals (Motorola, Pfizer, Essilor), large companies (Swatch Group, Ascom), SMEs (Asyst Technologies) and startups (VHF Technologies-Flexcell, Monoclonix). He has held various positions in production, R&D, quality and plant management. 

After a university education in mechanical engineering at the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, Alain obtained a master's degree in innovation management from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and a master's degree in strategic management from the EM Lyon Business School.

Soad El Ghazouani

Board Member
Over 25 years of global experience in the medical device industry

Soad El Ghazouani has over 25 years' global experience in the medical device industry, with in depth knowledge of the pan European and North American markets.

She is currently CEO and co-founder of T-Heart, a company developing a medical device for transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement. She previously held the position of CEO of Novostia, a company developing an innovative artificial heart valve, particularly for young patients. Prior to Novostia, Soad El Ghazouani held a number of management positions, including Vice President of Global Marketing at Biosensors, CEO of Bioring and Vice President Europe at Ev3. She has also held a number of operational management positions for Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Meadox and Hitachi.

Soad El Ghazouani holds an MBA in International Business from EM Lyon and a biomedical engineering degree (Université Claude Bernard, Lyon).

Franck Lescure

Board Member
Over 30 years expertise in technology innovation and venture capital investments

After 20 years of venture capital investment and 10 years of technology innovation in industry and startups, Franck has cumulated a deep experience, especially when related to life sciences and healthcare.

Between 2018 and 2023, Franck Lescure managed as a partner, the life sciences development at Elaia Partners, an early stage venture capital company. He built and oversaw an expert team involved in the creation and management of deep tech funds supporting start ups, investments and portfolio management, and inception of new activities including digital life sciences and life sciences. In the 90s, Franck has been part of the five initial years of Genset, one of the first French Biotech startups. Then he has spent five years in the Air Liquide group, worldwide industry leader in medical gases. He started his venture capital investor carrier in 2002 at Crédit Lyonnais Private Equity (now Omnes Capital) and joined Auriga Partners as life sciences partner where he participated to several investment funds, including fundraising and management of a seed investment fund that Elaia Partners has managed later on through a delegation agreement when Franck joined Elaia Partners.

Franck is an alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and of the Pasteur Institute. He holds a PhD in Microbiology & Virology and a MBA from the Collège des Ingénieurs.

Philippe de Bellefonds

Board Member
Philippe de Bellefonds has 30 years’ experience in engineering, new business start-ups, venture capital investment and fund-raising

For 17 years, he has been founding and managing a venture capital fund investing in multimedia, telecommunications, and medical technologies. Prior to that, he founded, managed, and sold two start-ups specializing in digital imaging and telecoms. After completing his PhD at Philips, Philippe began his career at Schlumberger, then at a telecom equipment manufacturer (CS Telecom), and at a semiconductor software publisher (Cadence Design Systems), where he held various management positions. 

Philippe has published a book on multimedia norms and standards with Dunod.

He holds an engineering degree from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and a PhD in electronics. He is also a passionate fly-fisherman.