“We actually have a really good business case,” explained Coen Breedveld from Levels Diagnostics in Leiden. The start-up company, established by Coen and three co-founders, is developing a rapid type of blood test that makes it possible to demonstrate whether an infection is viral or bacterial.
“The solution we are offering is relevant in the Netherlands”, explained Breedveld, “but it’s even more relevant in the United States and in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. In those countries, if you go to see your family doctor, vaguely referring to the fact that you’re “having problems with your lungs”, it won’t be long before you’re prescribed antibiotics. The doctor assumes that you’re suffering from a bacterial infection, but if your infection is viral, all the antibiotics will do is make you even more sick than you were before. Using this test, however, the doctor will immediately know what type of infection you have. Something that is worthy of note and forms the most important challenge is the question whether family doctors will accept this innovation. Are they ready to make changes to their routine?”
“While studying for my Chemistry degree, I took a specialist option in Science-Based Business. For me, running a business feels really great and was something that I wanted to do after completing my studies. My main interest lay in translating scientific insights into products. After setting up an ideas competition amongst students, I got to know about all sorts of good ideas for start-ups. That was the most interesting aspect of the competition and I also got to know the students themselves in person. What appealed to me most was that this initiative truly represents a fresh perspective on an existing problem. More importantly, it’s also a key issue. Simply Google it and you can see for yourself.”
“But first of all, it was a case of determining whether our new approach was genuinely novel and whether it would work. So we held confidential discussions with university professors and are currently making arrangements to obtain the necessary financing. The reason for this is that in the first instance, we had only invested a bit of money we had won during competitions, together with some money of our own. With the extra money, we will soon be able to start to examine the aspects that will enable us to generate the value and to establish whether our marker is precise enough.”
Funding and market research
“This is something that I am working on for 1.5 days a week, alongside my other job as a business developer. At the moment, one of the things I am doing is to apply for funding and I am approaching doctors’ practices and hospitals. In an ideal situation, our test will be launched on the market in three years’ time. That may be highly ambitious, but that is our aim. And of course, we’re also working on a patent application. I very quickly learned that putting together a patent is not something that a layman can do for himself – I have come across patents that run to 140 pages. At the same time, you need someone with a scientific background. Via a contact at the Bio Science Park in Leiden, we were introduced to V.O., and they do have the necessary knowledge and experience. Look, if we don’t do this and if, a short while from now, our competitors dismantle our chip and find out how it is constructed, we will have lost everything. So it’s important for us that we obtain a patent for the solution we have developed.
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