Leuven (Belgium), (MOREL) - miDiagnostics, a spin-off of the world-leading nano-electronics research center imec, today announced the launch of the holy grail for COVID-19 testing: an ultra-fast PCR test for point-of-care use. Flemish entrepreneurs-investors Marc Coucke, Urbain Vandeurzen and Michel Akkermans provide miDiagnostics with sufficient additional funding to support its transition to a commercial company. The management is reinforced with Katleen Verleysen as experienced CEO and Hans Vanderwegen as experienced COO.
Regaining our freedom is linked to rapid, reliable testing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of abundant and accurate diagnostics. It will still take quite some time before herd immunity will be achieved worldwide, and ongoing virus mutations and new variants pose major challenges to the vaccination process. Meanwhile, there is a great need for rapid accurate tests that can be performed at airports, in the workplace, at events, in doctors’ offices, or even at home. Unfortunately, rapid COVID-19 tests often have limited accuracy, while reliable diagnostic tests, based on PCR analysis and performed in central laboratories, can take anywhere from several hours to several days from a sample collection to a test result.
miDiagnostics has developed a unique solution: an ultra-fast PCR COVID-19 point-of-care test.
miDiagnostics has developed a rapid COVID-19 PCR test, based on its highly innovative diagnostics platform, that was designed by imec in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and licensed to miDiagnostics. The test combines the accuracy of central lab-based PCR testing with the speed of self-testing. A nasopharyngeal swab sample is transferred on a PCR testcard, from which the results are read by a compact reader. The test has the potential to achieve an excellent accuracy at a speed 20 times faster than ‘classic’ PCR machines in labs. miDiagnostics is already negotiating its first commercial collaborations and the agreements with all necessary suppliers to scale up production, are in the final stage. First pilot programs are scheduled shortly after summer.
Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board is proud of this milestone.
“The significant additional funding of 58 million euro that has been raised brings the total funding since 2015 to 140 million euro. It strengthens miDiagnostics to enter the next phase, being the phase of commercial success. This additional commitment has been raised by the main existing Flemish shareholder-entrepreneurs namely the Family Offices of Marc Coucke, Urbain Vandeurzen and Michel Akkermans respectively, in a new capital round of 38 million euro. In addition, miDiagnostics has negotiated a non-dilutive loan of 20 million euro with the EIB. The additional funding ensures that this technological gem remains fully anchored in Flanders. Which is exceptional, given the total amount of venture capital funding."
Peter Verhaeghe, independent director and chairman of the Audit & Finance Committee, who intensively coached and prepared this capital round, is very pleased to see that "miDiagnostics is a groundbreaking company in technological and innovative terms, and thanks to the support of its existing Flemish shareholders, it will now be able to evolve from a very promising research and development company to a fully integrated commercial diagnostics company, offering immediate solutions that demand answers in this COVID-19 crisis. The interest from foreign "venture capital" funds with a track-record in diagnostics for the current financing round was very high but it is the Flemish entrepreneurs who have picked up the gauntlet and are taking the business risk."
miDiagnostics also announces strengthening of its management with Katleen Verleysen as CEO and Hans Vanderwegen as COO.
The acceleration of its transition from an R&D company to a commercial and production company is accompanied by a significant expansion and strengthening of miDiagnostics’ management.
Urbain Vandeurzen explains: “We are very pleased that as of May 1, 2021, Katleen Verleysen will take office as CEO and Hans Vanderwegen as COO. Together with Nicolas Vergauwe as CTO, they represent a very strong and complementary leadership team. Nicolas has done an excellent job over the past three years combining the positions of CEO and CTO. With the joining of Katleen and Hans, both the commercial roll-out and the production scaling can now proceed in parallel with the further development of the R&D roadmap.”
Katleen Verleysen: “The pandemic has revealed the weaknesses of our health care system. To date, we are still unable to accurately and systematically diagnose for COVID-19 quickly and at a large scale. With its highly innovative ultra-fast PCR test, away from the lab, miDiagnostics has all the assets to become a disruptive player in the diagnostics market. We have also started the discussions to commercialize a rapid PCR-based breath test for COVID-19, recently developed by imec. I am convinced that this scientific breakthrough will prove very valuable for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for the diagnosis of all other respiratory diseases. Together with the team, I hope to make miDiagnostics a huge success story.”
Luc Van den hove, President and CEO imec: "We are proud of the growth path that miDiagnostics has experienced, and are grateful to Rudi Pauwels who has been guiding the team in developing the R&D roadmap. I want to thank the Family Offices for their large additional financial commitment, and Urbain Vandeurzen for accepting the role of Chairman of the Board. I wish the team under the leadership of Katleen Verleysen all the best.”
miDiagnostics is using silicon chip technology which will bring miniaturized, rapid, easy-to-use, lab-quality tests with built-in connectivity direct to the patient and clinician. Combining a nanofluidic processor on a chip and a compact reader, miDiagnostics can measure virtually any biomarker from an easily accessed sample such as drops of fingerprick blood or respiratory swabs. The Company is developing an extensive portfolio of tests for screening, diagnosis and monitoring of a wide range of health conditions, including COVID-19. Spun out of the world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, imec, and a research collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, the leading US research and medical centre, miDiagnostics’ goal is to enable fast, comprehensive and cost-effective health analysis, regardless of location. Based in Leuven, Belgium, miDiagnostics is a privately held company created in 2015.(ends)