The Swiss companies Pristem SA, a spin-off of the EPFL (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne) and Glosya Sarl, have agreed to join forces for the commercial deployment of a new radiology technology specially designed for emerging markets.
According to the WHO nearly 5 billion people – representing two-thirds of the world’s population – still lack access to such fundamental medical technology. The market is estimated to be worth several billion francs. To meet and sustain such high potential will, however, require not only the conception of an appropriate system but also the parallel development of viable distribution channels and after-sales service networks – both of which tend to be sorely lacking in many parts of the developing world. The partnership between Pristem and Glosya aims precisely to provide a comprehensive response to these challenges – one that addresses the range of technical, commercial and operational aspects in a fully integrated manner.
Just over four years ago, a team of enthusiastic doctors and engineers came together to develop from scratch innovative and accessible medical imaging technology specifically adapted to meet the needs and constraints of the developing world. The team evolved into an extensive project group uniting the expertise of some 20 EPFL specialist laboratories, the Western Swiss University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HES-SO), the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), the Paul Scherrer Institute, the EssentialMed Foundation, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (TPH), the National Advanced School of Engineering (ENSP), Yaoundé, Cameroon, and the University Teaching Hospital of Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The resulting X-ray radiology system represents a significant breakthrough in the provision of modern health systems for developing countries by opening wider access to state-of-the-art digital imaging technology that is both eminently affordable and robust.
Indeed, Pristem is currently transforming the prototype successfully tested at EPFL into a production model that may be readily and efficiently operated in the often extreme conditions facing hospitals and other target beneficiaries in the developing world. Besides extremes of climate, these notably include dusty environments, limited or unstable electricity supplies and maintenance restraints. The initiators were convinced from the outset that in order for the project to be sustainable and globally replicable, an economically viable outreach strategy, in line with sound business and commercial logic, was a vital prerequisite.
To this end, Pristem was specifically conceived as a vehicle for the deployment of essential technologies, such as those developed by EPFL and its partners, aimed at alleviating global poverty. Its founders, drawn from prominent academic, industrial and financial circles, are all experienced entrepreneurs who are committed to furthering the principles of sustainable development while creating new perspectives and opportunities for Swiss business..
Dr Klaus Schönenberger, Chairman of the Board and Director of the EPFL’s EssentialTech Programme, and Mr. Bertrand Klaiber, CEO and co-founder of Pristem, pictured with the prototype for the first digital radiology apparatus specifically conceived for deployment in emerging markets.
As Pristem engineers continue to advance their work on the industrialisation, technical clearance and production phases, Glosya will be working in parallel to identify the optimum financial and commercial partners needed to ensure successful deployment of the new technology.
Established with the specific mandate of opening access to African markets for Swiss companies and institutions, Glosya will place its expertise and resources at the disposal of Pristem in order to prepare and implement commercial deployment. Whilst the first focus will be on Africa, they will further begin exploring the potential of Asian markets. In both regions, this will involve the creation of distribution networks and promotional strategies directed at private radiology practitioners and clinics as well as hospitals and other public health facilities.
In this way, Glosya complements the strong industrial proficiency of Pristern by providing targeted intelligence and expertise on the commercial, logistical, legal, contractual and regulatory aspects specific to each given market. Its in-depth knowledge of the African continent coupled with – one of its key strengths – an extensive network of reliable and efficient partners enable it to take into account particular local factors that may be unfamiliar to new investors.