18 Innovation SPECIAL
When Business Meets Research With the healthcare system largely in the domain of the public sector, starting a healthcare business in Slovenia is a small revolution. But this hasn’t discouraged Klemen Španinger and Rok Košir from setting up DiaGenomi, the start-up company of the year in Slovenia. By Simon Demšar preneurial spark inside him or her, follow it and makes the ideas happen,” argues Španinger. Together with his business partner Rok Košir and Alja Videtič, a postdoctoral researcher, he forms the backbone of the company. “Technically, we are still employed with the Faculty of Medicine, while for the future, we are planning to work in our company and at the same time staying in touch with research circles.”
From left: Klemen Španinger, Alja Videtič Paska and Rok Košir
With personalised medicine being the core of DiaGenomi’s philosophy, they plan to sell their services to cardiology clinics, private clinics, spas and individuals in the form of personal medical examinations – that is, to institutions where personalised contact between the physician and the patient is a priority. The Slovenia Times
DiaGenomi has a precisely defined product, it has the know-how to realise the product and it knows to whom to sell it. These are key features which each company should be aware of if it is to penetrate the market successfully.” So said Matej Rus of the Start:up Slovenia contest when explaining the decision to award the prize to DiaGenomi. DiaGenomi describes itself as a high-tech company, offering services and solutions in molecular biology: the genetic analysis of breast and colon cancer samples – which allows physicians to quickly and effectively adapt treatment decisions for individual patients – and the genetic test of the cardiovascular system. This gives individuals guidelines for a healthier lifestyle and reduction of potential cardiovascular complications. The tests are innovative for their comprehensive approach to dealing with diseases or threats. Besides the genetic code, they also take into account the influence of patient’s lifestyle, family history and general medical condition. For the purpose of educational workshops
in the field of molecular techniques DiaGenomi has also developed standalone software for data analysis and normalisation.
With personalised medicine being the core of DiaGenomi’s philosophy, they plan to sell their services to cardiology clinics, private clinics, spas and individuals in the form of personal medical examinations – that is, to institutions where personalised contact between the physician and the patient is a priority. According to Klemen Španinger, chief executive of DiaGenomi, personalised diagnostic tests are on the increase. “Some analyses predict annual growth in the range of up to 80 percent,” he says. “Consequently, the number of providers is increasing and the quality of services has improved. But at the same time, European regulations in terms of permissions are changing.” Bringing research and entrepreneurship under one roof might seem unusual in Slovenia while but internationally such a mentality is the norm. “It is important for a researcher to find the entre-
Španinger started to think business while working on his doctoral thesis at Harvard. “As we know, the USA is the businessman’s promised land and I could feel this positive spirit through my co-mentor,” he explains. “This is where the idea to start a company was born but the setting-up itself was carefully planned. It helped that I am still young and now is the time to enter the realm of business.” DiaGenomi’s goal for the future is to penetrate foreign markets in Europe, North America, South America and Asia. The trio plans to do so via two strategic partners who provided immediate access to marketing channels in Southeastern Europe. An important part is played also by the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Simultaneously, they work on Western markets through a business partner. Being a young company, DiaGenomi is putting the finishing touches to its products, entering the market in the forthcoming months. They of course don’t generate any profit yet and are mainly financed by start-up capital. According to Španinger, the entrepreneurial environment in Slovenia has changed in recent years due to the economic crunch. It is becoming increasingly difficult to raise funds to start a company. On the other hand, Slovenian membership in the EU helps and coming from “a small Slovenia” is no drawback.
Slovenian Magazine in English Language