Mobidiag: Inexpensive and easy diagnostics for hospital laboratories

Mobidiag, specialising in molecular diagnostics, makes diagnostics tests and equipment platforms for the identification of infectious diseases. The company offers hospital laboratories automated diagnostics to get to the root of symptoms faster, more reliably and at lower cost. Tekes support has played a major part in the development of the company.

Tests developed by Mobidiag are mainly used to diagnose gastrointestinal infections, which include the feared super bacteria. The company is growing steadily and has achieved a solid market position especially in the Nordic countries and France. Mobidiag's products are sold through various distribution channels around the world – the latest addition to the sales network is Mexico.

Mobidiag currently employs a staff of about 40. The company was established already in 2000, but took on a new direction following a merger in 2013. This was also when Mobidiag's current Chief Executive Officer Tuomas Tenkanen joined the company.

"The purpose of the merger was to get all the necessary expertise about molecular diagnostics under the same roof. We then began to develop two product lines, Amplidiag and Novodiag, of which Amplidiag is already out on the market," says Mr Tenkanen.

A strategy of two product lines – Novodiag offers automated, low-cost diagnostics

Amplidiag's clients include medium-sized and large hospital laboratories with highly trained staff and large sample volumes. Product sales are already in full swing, and one of the highlights is a four-year deal with United Medix Laboratories Ltd.

The Novodiag product line is the larger and more ambitious project of the two – and, according to Tenkanen, also more important in the long run. Mobidiag has developed an equipment platform for hospital laboratories, the technology of which users don't have to understand at all. The sample is simply placed in a disposable cartridge, which is inserted into the machine. All the diagnostic stages take place automatically within the cartridge. The test results will be ready in 1 to 1.5 hours.

"Novodiag's advantage over its competitors is that a single cartridge can identify many items with one test. This leaves no doubt as to the cause of the symptoms. The cartridge is inexpensive, because all the technology is in the actual machine. The prices of our competitors' test products are very high, which makes it less likely for their technologies to spread very widely," Mr Tenkanen adds.

Funding in a key role for decades

Tekes has played a major role in the operation of Mobidiag for a long time, and their funding has helped to speed things up on many occasions.

"Tekes support was extremely important for Finnzymes, the company where I came from. It was founded with the aid of Tekes funding in the mid 80's, and it carries a great significance to Mobidiag to this day. About a third of Mobidiag employees originally worked for Finnzymes," says Tenkanen.

Tekes also played a key role in the 2013 merger. The change of direction, which required a lot of resources, would not have been possible without the support of Tekes.

"Cooperation with Tekes has always been smooth. I tend to tell them regularly how things are progressing, even if no reports are actually required. Tekes is a trump card for Finnish companies," says Tenkanen.

Mobidiag's future prospects are very positive. All the major risks associated with the technology have been overcome and the current challenges have more to do with sales and marketing. The European Investment Bank's EUR 15 million funding, of which Mobidiag issued a press release in mid-July, helps with the commercialisation and development of products. Mobidiag is now the third European company to receive funding from InnovFin Infectious Diseases under the EU Finance for Innovators instrument.

"The EIB funding nicely supplements the support we get from Tekes. Thanks to the funding, we can take marketing and sales to our target level," Tenkanen concludes.

More information

Tuomas Tenkanen, CEO
Tel. +358 50 5534 980

Text: Kaiku Helsinki

Pia Mörk