Progenus, a company based in the Créalys science park in Gembloux, was awarded the E-Commerce prize at the third EU Cross-Border E-Commerce forum. But Progenus doesn't sell clothes or decorative items, it sells genetic tests online! An effective e-shop that has already tripled its sales in its first year of existence, enabling individuals to purchase screening kits or DNA tests, both for themselves and for their pets. Progenus also offers molecular biology services to the European research community.
Progenus, a Namur-based laboratory, won an award at the E-Commerce Forum organised each year by the Wallonia Export & Investment Agency, not only because the products and services it offers are very specific compared with what is usually sold online, but also because its e-shop is particularly effective, as Bénédicte Renaville, Managing Director of Progenus, explains to us. "We really designed our webshop to make the consumer's journey as smooth and straightforward as possible, with a clear drop-down menu listing all the tests available, a search engine by breed and a selection aid that displays the recommended tests according to the breed of animal in particular".
A product of academic research, Progenus was founded in 2001 by Robert Renaville, its CEO, Bénédicte's father and Professor of Animal and Microbial Biology at Gembloux's Agro-Bio Tech ULiège.
Initially specialising in analysis kits for the detection of genetic diseases in animals, this family-run business now offers a full range of services, from the detection and quantification of animal species in foodstuffs to pedigree tests and disease detection kits for humans."Our activities can be divided into four main areas: research (which is very important at European level and accounts for half of our turnover), analyses for the agri-food sector (labelling fraud, etc.) and the production of DNA test kits, both for animals and for humans (diagnosis of genetic diseases)", explains Bénédicte Renaville.
The owner of a dog, cat or horse can visit the Progenus | Your partner for DNA analysis of your animals website to obtain a genetic test to check a pedigree. Or a breeder to prevent possible diseases and avoid certain crosses that could endanger a herd. Real added value for animal welfare.
In practical terms, once the kit has been ordered online and received, the owner visits his or her vet, who takes the sample. The sample is then analysed by the Progenus team, who send the results to the owner and remain available to answer any questions or requests for clarification.
Using hair or bristles (or mouth brushes), the laboratory can determine the animal's genetic fingerprint in order to certify its identity and parentage, or detect a genetic disease or other markers such as the colour of a horse's coat. In this way, Progenus offers veterinarians a real diagnostic aid.
In the agri-food sector, Progenus analyses can be used to identify the various components of a product for health safety reasons, as well as for ethical, religious or medical reasons. Their laboratory also offers PCR and DNA extraction kits specifically adapted to the needs of the food industry and laboratories.
The expertise acquired over the years in these genetic analyses means that Progenus now also works as a subcontractor in the development of new products for both multinationals and research start-ups.
With a team of 16 people (doctors in biology, chemistry, etc.), the Walloon laboratory, which continues to invest in research and development, generated a gross margin of €1,069,360 in 2022.
Already well established in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Germany, Progenus is keen to expand its activities throughout Europe, although it already has quite a few customers in North Africa and South-East Asia.