Eleven years ago Samuel Schmidt and Claus Graff were on target as engineers in Biomedical Engineering and Informatics. They just needed to write their Master’s thesis. That it was the beginning of a success story, namely the health technology company Acarix, was not in the cards at the time.
- Our supervisor was actually quite skeptical, but he still listened to our idea. In our thesis we would describe how, by using acoustics, you could listen in to atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries - and thus help to predict blood clots in the heart. It became what we call the CADScor System, and, yes, now we can actually see the product soon being used in the real world. This is big, says Samuel Schmidt, who in addition to his work in Acarix today is also an associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Aalborg University.
Acarix has just announced that they are going on the stock exchange on December 19 and has also recently announced a major investment from the Chinese firm Puhua Jingxin.
Believe in it and don’t give up
- There were plenty of times over the past 11 years where we easily could have shut the project down because we weren’t succeeding the way we wanted to. But we didn’t give up. We are proof that one of the differences between success and failure is how long you hold out, says Samuel Schmidt, Associate Professor.
For Samuel Schmidt and his thesis supervisor Professor Johannes Struijk the road to the anticipated IPO has been around fruitful collaborations, academic as well as commercial. They have worked closely with the largest hospitals in Denmark and with researchers working with acoustics at the Department of Electronic Systems. But other partnerships have also had a major impact on how the product developed, elaborates Samuel Schmidt.
- We were involved in AAU’s Incubator scheme, and in 2007 we started working with Coloplast. Acarix was founded by Coloplast and AAU in 2009 and was also supported by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.
Blood clot alarm to save lives
Acarix is in many ways a prime example of how knowledge developed at the university benefits society. For Acarix’s part, the usefulness is very easy to see:
- Imagine that you turn on a faucet and can hear the water rushing in the old calcified water pipes. It is a kind of turbulence you can hear. The same actually applies to the blood vessels. Just like with calcified water pipes, you can hear when there is calcium in the blood vessels. We would like to detect this hardening of the arteries because atherosclerosis in the coronary artery is the main reason for a blood clot in the heart. And it is actually the cause of more than 20 percent of all deaths in Europe.
So the CADScor System, as the device is called, is a technology that uses advanced signal processing to estimate the risk of blood clots in the heart. Samuel Schmidt hopes that general practitioners will use the product for diagnosing:
- Studies show that only 10 percent of the people who were referred for a CT scan based on suspected atherosclerosis were actually sick. If general practitioners use this system, they can better assess which patients need to be referred for a CT scan. And that proportion could be considerably reduced, says Samuel Schmidt.
Learn more about Acarix and CADScor here: www.acarix.com
Samuel Schmidt, Co-founder of Acarix, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University, Mobile: +45 28 70 43 74, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org