Little Fish, Big Pond: Growing a Taiwanese Medtech Startup Internationally

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Within Taiwan’s evolving medical device sector, many innovative startups are exploring breakthrough ideas which are sparking global interest and attention – iXensor being a chief example. The company’s patented technology turns mobile devices’ imaging sensors into accurate optical readers, which analyze diagnostic tests in seconds and synchronize results seamlessly to the cloud through its lead product PixoTest®.

 

Diverse Diagnostics

Now that we have proven the marketability of our diagnostic tools, we want to stand with the industry giants

Alan Tsai, iXensor

iXensor is devoted to leveraging the power of Point-of-Care (POC) diagnostics to provide a comprehensive mobile health solution across a variety of essential health areas. “We originally started iXensor in glucose management exclusively. However, with our technology platform, we were able to expand our offering and allow consumers to use their smartphone to test for several different biomarkers,” explains Carson Chen, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO).

Alan Tsai, iXensor’s other co-founder and general manager adds, “Currently, our technology platform covers three areas: chronic disease, women’s health, and infectious disease.” With this platform, patients and healthcare professionals can monitor ovulation cycles, blood sugar levels, and conduct rapid tests of transmittable diseases, such as zika and dengue with the same device.

 

From the Valley to Formosa

Alan Tsai

While the concept for the company’s technology first emergerd in Silicon Valley, Taiwan has become a strategic base which offers an advantageous ecosystem for iXensor’s continuous development. Chen highlights, “With my background in Taiwan’s IT industry and Alan’s connections in medical devices and diagnostics, we are fortunate to have a strong network of collaborators and KOLs to build our recognition in the country and ensure that our technology is top-notch.” Furthermore, given the country’s vast population of engineers and doctors, there is an abundance of skilled employees for launching such a project. “Taiwan’s expertise in merging ICT with health and biomedical technology allows us to more easily recruit talent… we have experimented and worked on new ways to increase collaborations, and after six years, we have developed a strong work culture where our engineers and medical staff can communicate effectively and speak the same language.”

A close industry network and wide pool of professionals is just part of Taiwan’s unique positioning to foster a growing digital health sector. Tsai points out, “iXensor is able to leverage Taiwan’s ICT manufacturing abilities, so we can produce high-quality products in a cost-effective way. Moreover, as a new company, our products are well connected to utilize modern technology like Wi-Fi and GSM.”

 

Connecting with Big Pharma

Carson Chen

With an innovative concept and a firm technology base, it is not surprising that the startup has caught the eye of international healthcare players. Earlier this year iXensor partnered with Merck as one of ten international startups participating in the MNC’s 2019 Acceleration Program which takes place in its Darmstadt, Germany HQ.

“Typically, collaboration with large MNCs it is a very long, bureaucratic process which may take months to arrange. In the accelerator program, we had a unique opportunity to begin inside the company and talk to different divisions within Merck to understand what their needs are and speak in depth about our own project,” explains Chen. For a small company like iXensor, having direct recognition and communication is a game-changing opportunity “to begin building our network within the healthcare industry and show what PixoTest can offer. Although it has been seven years, iXensor is still a startup with limited resources. We would like to continue cooperating with MNCs who can help us enter the sector and build our presence,” he adds.

 

Going Global

Although the company is less than a decade old, it has still been able to spread their wings in the global market. “Currently, we are already marketing PixoTest in Europe, Asia, and the US. In Asia Pacific, we selected Thailand and the Philippines to be our first distribution markets in the region. In these markets, our easily portable and maintainable product offers a strong advantage the access to healthcare outside of major cities is fragmented and requires adaptable solutions. In Europe, we work with Italian distributor because many patients go directly to pharmacies for diagnostic monitoring and treatment of their chronic diseases. In each region, we strategically select our markets and focus on applying the benefits that PixoTest can provide,” notes Tsai.

As the company continues to grow its presence internationally, having a strategic direction with a strong positioning is essential. Tsai insists that, “it is very important to prove that our products sell well in key markets. This will help us build a strong reputation within POC diagnostics as a leading product and partner of choice to distributors and market heavyweights… Now that we have proven the marketability of our diagnostic tools, we want to stand with the industry giants and leverage their distribution capabilities while we offer them an innovative solution in return. Our goal is to build long-term mutually beneficial relationships and help our partners close the circle of healthcare.”

 

Read the full interview with iXensor’s Alan Tsai here

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