Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: SpinDiag from Germany

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SpinDiag enables fully automated, PCR-based screening for drug-resistant pathogens in less than 30 minutes. The system consists of a disposable lab-on-a-disk and a portable device. Hospitals can screen quickly and reliably during patient admission and isolate and treat risk patients. This significantly reduces the risk of infection to other patients and cuts hospital costs. In this interview, Mark Keller, Co-Founder of SpinDiag, tells us more about the vision for his startup and the challenges their facing in this very specific sector:

What is SpinDiag all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Mark: Hospitals have a big and increasing problem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are brought in by patients and that can infect other patients. Our SpinDiag one system enables the detection of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria directly from common swab samples. Therefore, when patients are admitted to a hospital they can be tested quickly and non-invasively. This allows doctors to decide right away if a patient needs to be treated in isolation to protect others from getting infected. This idea actually came to us when we were talking to clinicians and became aware that the best way to prevent an infection is to know about it directly at the hospital gate.

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“Digital Disruption“ – that’s the motto of this year’s CODE_n CONTEST. What makes your solution innovative, what makes it disruptive?

Mark: Our SpinDiag one system will be the first to cover all relevant antibiotic resistances while providing this diagnostic result in a fast and affordable manner. For the first time, this will allow hospitals to consistently screen any risk patient (or even every patient) at his or her admission. Because all in all, our system will save money both for hospitals and the health care system in general, will protect staff and patients and will allow targeted treatment of infected patients, we believe that it will disruptively change our way how we fight antibiotic resistances in the near future.

You’re one of the 13 finalists in the HealthTech contest cluster. Which challenges do you think young companies have to face in this sector? How do you handle these challenges?

Mark: In our opinion, HealthTech offers great technical solutions to the world’s most severe health problems, like SpinDiag does for antibiotic resistances. By its regulations, the HealthTech sector sets high requirements for the developments of HelthTech products, which may be very challenging for young companies and may require a major investment. SpinDiag has partnered with renowned companies and experienced advisors to face these challenges.

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Working in the health industry and creating solutions there means a lot of responsibility and requires a lot of trust by partners and patients. Do you see it as one of the major challenges for startups to earn that trust?

Mark: The team of SpinDiag is well aware of the responsibility and trust it takes in the health industry to succeed as we have all been working for the R&D provider Hahn-Schickard in that field before we spun-out. Strikingly, we came up with our business case while talking to many clinicians who were eager to put such a system to work right away. We are now working in close collaboration with many of them to create a tailored system that they will love to be working with and are grateful for their trust in us.

Thanks for the interview, Mark!

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