Why did you start your start-up, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
We founded Canostix with the goal of developing a blood test for cancer screening that is convenient and cost effective enough to be used anywhere in the world and at all levels of society.
Today, cancer screening is available for very few cancers and patient compliance with these contemporary tests is less than 50%. Because this disease is so aggressive and a universal cure is decades away, early detection is the key factor in survival. Our test will be able to detect and distinguish the most common cancers at an early stage when they can be cured today.
How did you get the idea to found Canostix ?
The urgent need of society for a convenient cancer test and the possibility of realising it in a fraction of the time it would take science. During my doctoral studies in the field of cancer diagnostics, I came across spectroscopy and saw the potential of this technology. This combined with our broad network in India creates perfect synergies for rapid clinical translation.
What is special about your business model, what do you do differently?
We use a highly sensitive technology that is normally used in quality control, and reuse it by using machine learning to turn it into world-class cancer screening equipment.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome in the beginning?
We are still in the process of overcoming the biggest challenge, which is to raise a considerable amount of money to fund a project at a very early stage in the medtech/diagnostics field, with a technological approach that hardly anyone has ever heard of.
What was the most valuable advice someone gave you during your start-up phase?
My best friend Jonathan: "Just do it!"
What was your greatest success to date?
The establishment of research collaborations that allow us to develop this test at a fraction of the time and cost associated with medical technology development.
What is your biggest need/your next challenge?
To show that our test procedure is beyond any doubt. So far, we and a number of research groups worldwide have shown in proof-of-concept studies that this approach has immense potential to become the mass screening test of the future. Now is the time to conduct large-scale studies to show that this technology is ready for clinical translation.
Why are you on the launch pad?
Our main goal at the moment is of course to find investors for our seed round. But we are always interested in meeting and talking to like-minded people.
What would you recommend to other founders?
As we are venturing into a field that is very unusual for start-ups, we would like to encourage other founders to look beyond what lies ahead and look into markets that deal with big client needs. There are great minds with even better ideas in areas where there is traditionally no entrepreneurial approach - being innovative, dynamic and adventurous - that would greatly benefit from the creativity and energy of start-ups.
Where did you meet?
University and personal contacts.
What has really gone wrong since your foundation?
Every day something goes wrong, luckily nothing has really gone wrong so far, everything just takes much longer than planned.
Suppose you are the governing mayor of Berlin for one day, what would you change?
Set up a hub for international research cooperation to address the most pressing problems facing society - climate change/renewable energy, physical and mental health, education, urbanisation, recycling, etc.