Mar 22 2018

Interview: NETVA 2017 laureate Gilles Fedak, CEO of iExec, presents his start-up

Created in 2010 by the Office for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in the United States, NETVA (New Technology Venture Accelerator) is a mentoring program tailored for young, innovative French companies hoping to discover or better understand the inner-workings of the North American high-tech market. For the 3rd consecutive year Inria partners with the program: the deadline for “made-in Inria” start-ups to apply is March 31st!

Gilles Fedak, co-founder and CEO of the 2017 NETVA laureate  iExec, presents his start-up and shares with us his experience with NETVA.

 

Gilles Fedak, co-founder and CEO of iExec, NETVA 2017 laureate.

Dr. habil. Gilles FEDAK is a permanent INRIA research scientist since 2004 at ENS-Lyon, France. After receiving his Ph.D degree from University Paris Sud in 2003, he followed a postdoctoral fellowship at University California, San Diego in 2003-2004. His research interests are in Parallel and Distributed Computing, with a particular emphasis on the problematic of using large and loosely coupled distributed computing infrastructures to support highly demanding computational and data-intensive Science. He produced pioneering software and algorithms in the field of Grid and Cloud Computing that allow people to easily harness large parallel systems consisting of thousands of machines distributed on the Internet.  He co-authored about 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers and won two Best Paper awards.  In 2012, G. Fedak  co-edits with C. Cérin the Desktop Grid Computing Book, (CRC publication). In 2015, he receives the Chinese Academy of Sciences PIFI Award.

In 2016, he’s the co-founder of the iExec Blockchain company.

 

  • Gilles, how much is the research background important for the development of iExec solutions?
iExec leverages more than fifteen years of research in Cloud and Grid computing. We’ve been very active in the area of Desktop Grid computing, which aims at using a very large number of computers distributed on the Internet to execute very large scientific parallel applications. iExec relies on the XtremWeb-HEP middleware developed by CNRS and Inria, which provides many needed features around scheduling, fault tolerance, security, deployment, data management etc…

 

  • The iExec start-up is a visionary and pioneering start-up in the blockchain landscape, can you tell us more about this exciting area?
iExec wants to decentralize the cloud computing market by building the future of the Internet infrastructure. We are developing the  first blockchain-based decentralized Cloud market network.

iExec aims at providing to companies a scalable, secure and easy access to the services, the data-sets and the computing resources they need. Our technology relies on the Ethereum smart contracts and allows building a virtual Cloud infrastructure that provides high-performance computing services on demand. We envision a new eco-system of companies offering storage, computer farms, data providers, web hosting, SaaS applica- tions, and all making business to others through iExec.

 

  • The Startup iExec is very successful, this includes being one of the awardees of the NETVA’2017 competition that allowed you to have a first experience with the USA market, can you tell us what you learned from this experience and the impact on the development of the company?

NETVA’2017 was an incredible experience for iExec. The two co-founders spent an entire week in San Francisco and the bay area meeting outstanding people from the largest IT companies (Docker, Intel, Apple, Sony, BNPParisbas and more). Although blockchain and cryptocurrencies is a rather young topic, we always received enthusiastic welcome and had fruitful discussions with key repesentatives. We were also pleased to meet researchers at Berkeley who are already very involved in every aspects of Blockchain. Directly or indirectly, the contacts initiated during the NETVA immersion week are now being transformed in actual collaborations and partnerships with several key players like Intel and IBM, and several startups from the Bay area.

 

  • What are your plans now?
We’re full steam towards delivering a major milestone for iExec. Scheduled for end of May, iExec will release the first decentralized market place for Cloud providers. Meanwhile, we are developing an ambitious R&D program regarding the decentralized Cloud that encompasses algorithmic  research by designing the Proof-of Contribution protocol, technology with the usage of the SGX enclave technology proposed by Intel, and economics by investigating new business models that can cope with the crypto-economics nature of iExec.
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  • The NETVA 2018 edition is now open! What advice would you give to prospective applicants of NETVA?

The NETVA program is an true accelerator that can boost your project in many aspects, from fund raising to actual development on the US market.  You will learn a lot and it will also open doors in France as well.

Interview by Valerie Issarny for Inria@SiliconValley


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