The start-up project QuantiLight of Max Planck Institute for Medical Research is developing home blood tests. To pave the way for a potential spin-off, the two "founders-to-be" Estelle Bonedeau and Corentin Gondrand, have been participating in the MAX!mize start-up incubation program since 2022.
Blood tests play an essential role for many people. One example is chronic diseases that require daily medication. Here, regular examinations of the medication level are necessary. So-called Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) is an important component of modern therapy, and the aim is to dose the medication individually for the patient. On the one hand, the dosage must be high enough to achieve the desired effect, and on the other hand, it must be low enough to avoid side effects. With current methods, patients usually go to the hospital to get their blood samples taken. The hospital laboratory then analyses the sample and sends the results to the doctors who can finally give patients recommendations. The whole procedure is expensive and time-consuming for patients, physicians, and central laboratories and slows down the treatment adjustments.
The technology developed at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Prof. Kai Johnsson’s department offers a solution to that problem. With the Covid pandemic and limited options for patients, their at-home blood tests proved particularly relevant, and commercialization became the researchers' focus. "We want to speed up the process so that the patient and doctor can adjust the medication more quickly," said Corentin Gondrand. "Our Patent and Licensing Manager of Max Planck Innovation, Ingrid Kapser-Fischer, initially brought MAX!mize to our attention." After successfully applying, the two participated in the MAX!mize Bootcamp and advanced to Phase 1 of the program. In various team and product sessions, the two worked on their idea. How could our future business model be designed? What competitive advantages does our technology offer, and what does the customer landscape look like in the B2B healthcare market? Working closely with their Start-up Coach at Max Planck Innovation, Achim E. H. Wolf, they used interviews to sharpen the business model. The various events and consultations served as a common thread guiding them through the multiple milestones and challenges. This is because MAX!mize is a multi-stage incubation program. After each phase, jury meetings or requirements decide whether the business idea advances to the next phase. If the business idea still needs to be further developed, the start-up journey ends for the time being.
Corentin and Estelle successfully entered Phase 2 of the program in February 2023. Now, the final incorporation is the goal. Can they recommend the start-up program for Max Planck researchers? Estelle says: "The MAX!mize Bootcamp served as our first reality check and a good way to engage with the career option as future startup founders. Participants should be prepared to step out of their comfort zone. The closer we get to incorporation, the more important diverse networks become. If you participate in the program, be open to new things, willing to learn a lot, and also be prepared for quick changes in direction. Proactively approach interesting contacts and ask them for support, they might open their network!".