One out of every two people will confront a cancer diagnosis at some point in their life. That’s why each and every cancer test needs to be quick, safe and reliable. To increase safety and reliability, we need an automated system for histopathology. This system comes from inveox, our startup of the week. Shelley Pascual, Communications Specialist at inveox, told us in an interview what exactly is behind it and how it works.
Hi Shelley! We are glad you could join us today. Inveox is all about reducing mistakes in cancer diagnosises. How do you optimize the process in that area?
inveox brings artificial intelligence and a large data potential to cancer diagnosis by automating the pre-analytical process and reducing errors. The errors can occur, for example, due to sample mix-ups or data loss. At the same time, patient safety and laboratory efficiency are improved.
How do your products help to automate the process?
Research shows that tissue samples (biopsies) in today’s laboratories can be confused, contaminated or lost with a probability of 1-15%. But our products – an intelligent sample container, an automation device and a digital data platform – are designed to work as one coherent unit to make sample entry in histopathology safer, more efficient and reliable.
Thanks to a QR code, our intelligent sample containers offer all patients safety by ensuring that mix-ups and contamination of tissue samples are a thing of the past. The container also has an intelligent filter that enables automatic mounting in biopsy cassettes. In this way, the sample always remains in one container and its unique ID facilitates data transfer, track & trace and process control.
A complementary product, the automation device, increases the throughput and quality of tissue samples by processing dozens of samples simultaneously and in a consistent, systematic manner. This allows the laboratory technician to focus on value-added tasks rather than repetitive data collection and repackaging. More importantly, it introduces artificial intelligence and collects data on every single tissue sample. Until now, the data has either not been recorded or is stored away in paper and cardboard boxes instead of being aggregated for scientific research.
Finally, our digital platform opens the door to a new and truly connected laboratory of the future. It enables seamless communication between the doctor taking the biopsy, the lab technician, the pathologist, our container and our machines. In short, this platform enables us to integrate the entire diagnostic experience from the taking of a tissue sample to the delivery of a diagnosis.
Cancer affects people all over the world. Reducing the potential mistake rate is a major goal. Why is your approach better than others? What makes your idea stand out?
Not only is there an enormous demand for our innovation worldwide, but there is no direct competition for inveox, apart from the manual process of preparing biopsy samples in pathology laboratories. This pen-and-paper method, which has been performed by laboratory technicians for decades, misses the potential for data collection and utilization. It also requires technicians to remain alert and focused on monotonous tasks that can be performed by machines.
inveox solves the biggest single problem in histopathology by introducing the world’s first automated system for sample entry in histopathology, for which we hold the corresponding industrial property rights. We are the first to use a combination of hardware and software, but most importantly, we have designed it for the future so that it can collect and exchange data that can be used for medical research and further process optimization. We are the first in the market and have a solid base of investors and customers who believe in our cause and the value of our solution.
What business model do you use?
Our component-based product and a modular contract structure enable us to offer all laboratories (regardless of size and throughput) service packages tailored to their individual needs, while remaining flexible and scalable at all times. These consist of Hardware as Service, Software as a Service and consumables in various package sizes.
Since your product is intended for histopathology, the corresponding laboratories are probably your main target group, right? In how many countries do you already sell your product?
Exactly! Our customers are private and public histopathology laboratories, which may include residences, parts of hospitals, laboratory chains or research institutes. Currently we are mainly active in the DACH region with the aim of expanding into other EU countries.
The European market alone consists of 6,500 laboratories that process 1 billion tissue samples every year, which results in an addressable market of 2 billion euros per year. We are also aiming for a US market, which includes 9,000 laboratories that process 2 billion samples per year, resulting in a total addressable market of €4 billion per year, and finally a global market with a potential of more than €13 billion per year.
How advanced is your product? Is it already being used successfully?
Yes, considering that our company was founded almost three years ago, the current state of our product development can be considered quite advanced. Since then, our products have been used successfully and with high satisfaction by well-known customers. In August 2019, we closed a financing round of 17 million Euros, bringing our total financing to 23 million Euros, which will allow us to further expand our team, scale globally and enhance our software. We currently have a team of almost 100 teammates, consisting of approximately 30 nationalities, spread across our offices in Munich and Krakow.