Until now, pharmaceutical companies have no accurate information on what is happening inside their production processes in real time. The German-Israeli startup VAYU Sense has developed a non-invasive solution with sensors, which can reduce costs by up to 40%. Furthermore, their technology can revolutionize the analysis of blood platelets and help thousands of patients. Here’s our interview with the CODE_n finalist.
Where did your idea for the company come from?
VAYU Sense is a German-Israeli company, backed by a serial entrepreneur who is a long-term stakeholder in several technology companies. He has a keen interest in how technology can solve health care problems, so he empowered his team to scout for technologies that can make an impact. They came across a large unmet need for the early detection of contamination in blood platelets, and once they had identified the core technology to solve it, formed a development team.
During this process, the team held discussions with a pharmaceutical company that sparked the idea for the flagship product we are marketing today. This provides pharmaceutical companies with insights into the drug-production process. The core technology for the two products is the same.
For which kind of audience is your product or service intended and what problem is it solving?
Our technology is capable of solving a wide range of challenges in different industries – from healthcare to food production and oil refineries. However, our current focus and passion is health care. Right now, we are focused on two different products. The first, VAYU Meter, gives insights into what is happening inside a fermenter and it can do this at any given moment during the process, non-invasively, sending data directly to a computer, tablet or smartphone. The second, VAYU Med, detects contamination in blood platelets seconds before they are transfused to a patient. Transfusion with contaminated units can cause sepsis, which currently occurs in more than 4,000 patients each year. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that places a huge burden on the health care system, costing $20 billion annually in the US alone. Because of the magnitude of the problem and the lack of practical approaches for testing platelets before they are transfused into the patient, the FDA has limited platelet shelf life to 5 days. VAYU Med tests the platelets instantly and with complexity, so more of the precious uncontaminated platelet units can be used – and used safely. Also, with this test, many samples that are discarded too early – due to the prescribed shelf life – could still be used to treat patients.
Tell us a bit about the company’s founders like their professional or industry background and the origins of the founding idea.
The company founders are the ideal combination of business acumen, scientific expertise and innovative thinking.
- Katja Beyer has a strong background in finance and has held leading positions in the telecom/IT industry, including senior roles at Deutsche Telekom Group and other leading IT companies.
- Moria Shimoni has a Ph.D. in biology specializing in genetic, biochemical and molecular research from Tel Aviv University. She’s worked widely in applied science, from antibody research to medical device development.
- Noel Axelrod is an entrepreneur with a long successful record creating patents and managing innovations.
It was Katja’s work with the German entrepreneur and business background, combined with Moria’s scientific research and Noel’s creativity that ultimately led to the incorporation of VAYU Sense.
To put it in a nutshell for the layman, what is it about your device that has been missing in the health sector until now? Have you had feedback from operators who have used your “eyes in the process?”
Our main solution will revolutionize many aspects of drug manufacturing. In essence, we are bringing the Internet of Things to pharmaceutical production processes. Many drugs are developed in large containers called fermenters. Unbelievable as it may sound, pharmaceutical companies have no real insights into what is happening inside these huge containers in real time, non-invasively and at this level of accuracy. Existing solutions, for instance, require operators to take periodic samples and send them to the lab. Or they aren’t measuring accurately enough. We are the first company in the world to offer real-time monitoring of production processes with extreme accuracy. We are able to show changes in a single molecule in a sample that contains a million molecules. So to answer your question: Yes, we are giving the operator a system that keeps a close eye on the process! And the feedback we are receiving from the field is that VAYU Meter could reduce the cost of a fermentation process by up to 40%.
Our other main product can test blood platelets just before they are transfused to the patient, so health workers will know for sure that there’s no contamination. This is really exciting. We expect our products, VAYU Meter and VAYU Med, to help drug companies and blood banks maximize yields and save lives.
See VAYU Sense live on the CODE_n Stage on Tuesday, 17.03.2015.