The Munich medtech startup Smart4Diagnostics (S4DX) aims to digitize the entire blood sampling procedure. The healthcare company wants to ensure end-to-end tracking of blood samples. In July of 2018, the Munich team impressed the investor ‘EIT Health’ and successfully completed a financing round of more than two million euros. Seven questions for Timo Böge, one of the four founders.
1. Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourself!
Our startup is working on a digital solution to support the process of blood sampling and to seamlessly record and ensure the quality of the blood sample up to its lab analysis. Whereas laboratory analyzers have been technically developed into high-performance precision devices, the blood sample that is to be analyzed, which is the basis for over 70% of medical decisions, has been neglected for a very long time.
Smart4Diagnostics: “We’re dealing with a practical problem”
Our founding team is not coming from university with a new technology in their pocket, instead, we’re dealing with a practical problem. In our previous jobs in labs and hospitals, we noticed a quality issue with how blood samples were handled, but there weren’t any appropriate or up-to-date solutions on the market. That’s why we decided to develop our own solution. Together, that means Julia Flötotto, Hans Maria Heÿn, Malte Dancker and me, Timo Böge, we have practical experience in software development, laboratory medicine, the approval process and from working in hospitals.
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
That is correct. Various components of our solution have indeed existed for decades, i.e. temperature loggers for transport monitoring. Until now, however, no one had come up with the idea of a fully automated, digital and integrated solution that involves the patient and nurse and supports the process. Many steps until now, from drawing blood to the sample arriving at the lab, were done manually and performed and documented to be best of one’s knowledge and belief — or maybe not, just because it had been done differently for years.
Smart4Diagnostics is also not reinventing the wheel. We do, however, support nurses and the entire process at select points with our digital solution where we felt it was necessary based on our experience and on our validation discussions. We are not trying to force new technology into an existing format. We’re trying to fill the gaps in the existing format with a suitable technological solution.
Hiring employees: a genuine challenge
4. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Gaining access to young and ambitious graduates is, despite how close we are to universities, something of a challenge. We can’t compete with the offers and names of established and prominent employers in Munich. At the same time, what local graduates expect from an employer, in our experience, doesn’t necessarily match what a startup can offer. Moreover, the automotive industry, robotics or artificial intelligence are more attractive than healthcare in Munich. That makes hiring employees a real challenge for Smart4Diagnostics.
5. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
We’re currently still in the product development and validation stage. We aim to qualify our prototypes with a custom-tailored solution for the market launch. When the product and business model are right, then revenue will come in too — we’re convinced about that.
Because we’re active in the realm of B2B, a lot goes on under the radar. We’re currently cooperating with various big hitters in the lab market, from manufacturers to lab service providers, and are also talking with potential customers in Europe. Our successful rounds of financing give us momentum, but obviously also increase our obligation to show something for it.
6. What does Munich mean to you?
Munich is the home we’ve chosen for our startup, and we commute every day from Upper Bavaria to the city – with all of the advantages and disadvantages commuting has to offer. In the end, what convinced us was the proximity to TU Munich, the University Hospital rechts der Isar and Munich’s entire innovation network, including the local startup scene.
7. TSV 1860 Munich or FC Bayern Munich?
Four founders with a total of six kids: Weekdays are spent in the office and weekends with the family by the lake. Other hobbies like soccer pretty much fall by the wayside.