Dr. | Manager Enabling Technologies
Tel. +41 61 295 50 20ralf. duempelmann@baselarea. swiss
90 participants, six startup pitches, two keynotes, five supporting organisations, an inspiring success story and a proud winner of 5’000 CHF were impressive facts of the first Swiss Diagnostics Start-up Day in Olten. BaselArea.swiss supported the initiative of the Förderverein Swissbiolabs and key partners from canton Solothurn to promote a greater awareness of diagnostics in Northwestern Switzerland.
The six startup pitches of 8 minutes each highlighted some trends in diagnostics – and some difficulties, too. The winner, Danuta Cichoka, researcher at FHNW, presented a concept to determine antibiotic resistance much faster than today based on the fact that bacteria provide a distinct signal on cantilevers – as long as they are alive. Resistell is the designated name of the company, which addresses the burning question of antibiotic resistance, but there are still many technical and cost-wise hurdles.
The second place went to rqmicro, an ETH spinoff. Their system to rapidly test for Legionella in drinking water is already on the market. The idea is to modify the existing platform on immunomagnetic separation and flow cytometry towards pharma and clinical diagnostics. rqmicro ist looking for collaboration partners for this practical approach.
Articifical intelligence and data analysis is the basis of the third price, presented by Peter Nesterov. The newly founded company Scailyte set the ambitious target to identify novel biomarkers out of single cell data. Certainly, big data and bioinformatics will be a key for future diagnostics systems, but it is a very competitive environment, too.
Matthias Essenpreis, CTO of Roche Diagnostics, Basel, explained a principal difficulty of in-vitro diagnostics (IVD): Over 60 percent of clinical decisions are influenced by IVD, but only 2 percent of healthcare spending is spent on IVD. Despite the importance it is difficult to earn money with IVD, which is definitely a mixed message to the startups.
The lively and inspiring event will supposedly be repeated next year. “Diagnostics is an important topic. Mutual events in the Basel region and canton Solothurn enable success of innovative ideas and collaborations”, explained Ralf Dümpelmann, Senior Project Manager of BaselArea.swiss. The accelerator program BaseLaunch offers additional possibilities for startups in life sciences.