As commercial agency manager of a Japanese airline company, Olivier CORNIL made frequent trips to Japan. He had envisioned creating trading activity in new products between Japan and the European Union. Impressed by the heating system the Japanese used to heat their tatami mats in their homes (a water heated carpet hardly 1 cm thick!), he tried to organize the importation of this heating system, with the help of AWEX (Wallonne Export and Foreign Investment Agency).
To verify the technical characteristics and compatibility of these carpets with European standards, Olivier had them examined by the ULg (University of Liege in Belgium). A Master’s thesis was done by a civil architectural engineering student and performance tests were carried out in a laboratory in Arlon, Belgium.
These tests inspired Pierre-Yves FRANCK, whose goal was to design a thin, effective floor heating system suitable for European construction standards.
Olivier and Pierre-Yves formed a partnership to develop and market a floor heating system for which an initial study of the prior art revealed innovative aspects.
A patent application was filed with the European Patent Office, with the ULg, Olivier Cornil and Pierre-Yves Franck as co-owners. For its part, the Wallonne Region granted a F.I.R.S.T. (Fostering Interest in Research, Science and Technology) subsidy to support the development of the innovative concept, towards the creation of a commercial activity, a ULg spin-off.
Completion of the first 65 m² installation of innovative heated flooring in a home under renovation in Arlon.
Creation of the OPAL SYSTEMS SA company, which purchased the rights to the concept. It would manufacture, market and install the floor heating systems.