What does Oncocura do exactly?
We are developing an at-home blood test device for cancer patients to monitor their blood cells counts, with a simple, low-cost technology.
Which team is working behind oncocura?
We are currently a cross-functional team of three professionals. Iris is an immunologist and is responsible for the product development and outreach. Marija is a UX Product designer with more than 5 years of industry experience in 5 countries and is in charge of product design and production. Nelly is a machine learning specialist in image processing for microscopy data and involved in the algorithm design and back-end development. Our areas of expertise are complementary and we jointly push the project forward in terms of business and market research.
What is your goal?
Our long-term goal is to bring routine blood tests to the home of patients who need them the most, and contribute to the digitization and decentralization of medicine. We want to make routine blood tests accessible for all cancer patients in the comfort at their own home, saving them a trip to hospitals and increasing the frequency by which they can monitor their blood counts.
How did the idea for oncocura come about?
The initial idea was formed in 2018 at a hackathon in Berlin. After thorough research with clinicians and patients, we refined our idea to a more comprehensive blood test that would adequately cover the information needed by the doctors.
you are still at the very beginning with oncocura. What challenges do you have especially at the beginning?
The main challenge at the moment is to acquire funding and to form a solid understanding of the market, how to access it most efficiently and refine our business idea further.
every start-up is facing major obstacles due to the coronavirus pandemic. What challenges do you have especially in this period of time?
As we are still in the early stages of our product ideation, we are yet to realize the full implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of our communication is online as we our team is spread out between Berlin and Zurich. However, as we are transitioning into acquiring funding we expect to face the challenges of online pitching and networking, and anticipate the extreme competitiveness for funding that the pandemic has, most likely, created.
On the other hand, we believe that the coronavirus pandemic presents an unique opportunity for point-of-care diagnosis startups like ours. We have already seen the increasing adoption of telemedicine driven by the crisis, when the healthcare system is burdened and social distancing is the new norm. However, a problem with remote consultatoin is that oftentimes a definitive diagnosis could not be made because of the lack of blood test results, which is where point-of-care diagnostic tools like ours come in. So we are very optimistic about growth potential of this space.
What tips do you have for start-ups that are affected by the crisis?
Understand how the pandemic and its aftermath will impact our society in terms of reducing the need for in person appointments or the greater need for online accessibility, and re-contextualise your start-up to align with these new conditions. Emphasize the attributes of your start-up that will align with the post-pandemic world, e.g. how your online service reduces the need to meet in person.
How are you connected to the life science factory?
We are pleased to be connected to the life science startup community and the expert network at the life science factory, where we got valuable advice on different aspects specifically on the development of a medtech startup, like regulatory environment and preclinical studies. We also got to connect with different potential investors and partners in the events organized by the life science factory.