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 Third generation biosensors - Will they revolutionise the market of analytical devices? -

Third generation biosensors - Will they revolutionise the market of analytical devices? - the interview with Alfons Felice, one of the founders of Austrian DirectSens

Publish date: 2013-02-21

DirectSens is a new Austrian biotech company dedicated to development of biosensors. Alfons Felice, one of the founders, answers the questions about the company, its mission and origin.

Tags: biotechnology , austria , interview

Biosensors are analytic devices capable of detection of an analyte, thanks to their biological part that affects the investigated substance. The transducer of the biosensor receives a signal converting it to an electrical one. The 3rd generation biosensors use direct electron transfer via the active site of an enzyme constituting the biological part of the device. The lack of mediators improves selectivity of the biosensor and is its main advantage.

 

 

Why DirectSens? Where does the name come from?

It’s a feature of our technology. We work on 3rd generation biosensors capable of direct electron transfer. Thus, we called the company DirectSens.

Can you tell our readers what is DirectSens dedicated to?

We are aiming at the development of 3rd generation biosensors, which can be applied in medical technology and industry. Doing so we want to set higher performance standards combined with easier production.

What had made you decide to set up the company?

At a certain stage of our research we saw that if we want to follow the track towards a final application of our technology, we need to take care of legal issues. Together with the encouragement of people we pitched our concept to, we decided to found DirectSens. 

Setting up a company involves risks. How are you dealing with uncertainty?

From a scientist’s point of view, uncertainty is rather common. You don’t know where you are heading to, but you do things carefully. I think it’s the same with setting up a company; there is no handbook, but we believe in our concept, we continuously improve it and we ask people for advice. That reduces the risks to a level we can deal with.

What was the market opportunity that pushed you to set up the company? Or is it a company which dedicates to innovative products? Or maybe your company launches a competitive product to those currently existing on the market?

We are developing innovative products challenging those existing on the market. We have identified technological problems, which restrict the economic success of products already on the market and offer solutions.

What is your competitive advantage? There are many biotech companies in Vienna, what will make you competitive?

We have a unique technology platform, which we can use to specifically meet the requirements of an application or customer. Additionally, we have formed strategic alliances with strong industrial partners and universities.

What is your target market?

We work business to business. Our customers are on the one hand companies supplying the medical device market, in particular with blood glucose monitoring devices and on the other hand companies supplying the dietary industry.

Who creates the company? Who are your co-workers?

Right now we are a group of five people. We used to work together at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, where the technology has been developed. Some of us stayed at the university while the others work in the company. During the next quarter we are going to hire, especially R&D personnel.

What about your business model?

We are generating revenues by licensing our technology for certain applications.

What are the plans and challenges for development of the company?

We are focusing on medical technology right now, but we want to expand towards industrial applications in the next two years. The major challenge will be to find well-suited strategic partners and to raise capital for further developments.

Do/will you have strategic partners?

We do have an alliance with bigger companies supplying us with resources to reduce cost and time-to-market and a tight connection to the universities and thus basic research in the field. 

Did you find it difficult to find financing opportunities to kick-start your company?

It takes time, but it is a fruitful process. You learn to look at your idea from different angles. It’s a kind of boot camp where you learn to convince people of your idea and give sufficient prove that its worth to invest in you. 

Do you use any start-up or technological incubator facilities? How does it help in creating the company?

We are in the Accent incubator based in lower Austria and get financial support and advice. It helps a lot to be part of such a program, because it is a kind of approval for your idea. Once you took that hurdle, you will get more attention and opportunities.

According to you, what is the most important while creating a company?

Stay focused and ask people with experience.

Do you find it hard to set up a company in Austria? Why?

Not really. You get a lot of help, but funding is a problem. There is not much venture capital out there.

What would you recommend to those who would like to launch their own business in Austria?

Meet the people of incubator facilities in your district; attend the info events and talk to people who have done it before. You will find your way.

What do you think about events focusing on Central and Eastern Europe biotech?

Good idea. I think there are great opportunities to form alliances in this region.

How could your company advantage CEE biobusiness?

Currently we are focusing on the already established co-operations, but in the future the portal might be a good way to attract customers. 

 

by Natalia Pankiewicz

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