VD Torsten Freltoft
"The fact that our technology is an enabler for biomarker discovery is a significant milestone for us and a break through, which in the long term could generate significant value for AcouSort."
For those who have not previously heard of AcouSort, can you tell us a little more about your business, what you do and what market you are addressing?
AcouSort develops, produces and sells products based on acoustofludics, an innovative technology that uses sound waves for sample preparation of biological samples for research and clinical diagnostics. Applications include separation of blood into its components, enrichment of specific cells and purification of extracellular vesicles, bacteria or viruses – processes that need to be performed before almost any measurement or analysis can be made on clinical samples. Traditional sample preparation requires many manual handling steps, but with AcouSort’s technology it can be automated and integrated into almost any analytical instrument. This reduces human error and saves time and money.
AcouSort’s benchtop systems AcouWash and AcouTrap are targeting separation, washing, enrichment and staining applications within cell, bacteria and extracellular vesicle research. Through research collaborations with life-science companies, AcouSort develops customized solutions for integrated sample preparation for a wide variety of applications. In the pipeline are also off-the-shelf components for blood-plasma separation, such as the AcouPlasma, enabling Point of Care Testing (POCT) system providers with inline access to plasma-based assays directly from whole blood.
Could you tell us a little more about your go-to-market strategy today and what potential you see from moving towards an OEM model?
The business strategy of AcouSort is two-fold. Ongoing is the commercialization of the two bench-top systems, AcouTrap and AcouWash, targeting biomarker, diagnostic and therapeutic research. Sales of the two bench-top systems provide early revenues for us and is important for stimulating strategic collaborations leading to the development of new industrial high-volume applications. The company’s long term strategy is to become an established OEM supplier, where we provide off-the-shelf and customized acoustofluidic OEM modules to international life science players. AcouSort’s first example of such a module is a blood-plasma separation component for integration in third party analytical systems where the access to blood plasma is essential. The market for consumable and semi-consumable blood-plasma separation modules is estimated to grow significantly in the coming years as blood plasma is required for numerous blood-based assays used in health care. AcouSort’s integrated blood-plasma separation solution enables the development of Point of Care Testing (POCT) instruments performing the same assays, but without the need for access to a laboratory. The test can thus be analyzed on-site, the patient can receive the result right away, and therapeutic action can be taken immediately.
You increased your net sales to about SEK 3 million in 2019. What has been the primary driver of the increased sales?
Our revenue increase during 2019 are mainly derived from three different income sources, the sales of bench-top systems, from conducting feasibility studies together with large life-science and diagnostic companies and from public funding.
Can you tell us a bit more about your latest agreements in Japan and what value drivers you expect from these in the future?
In the mid- and long-term, the overall value driver is the potential that we see in becoming an OEM-module supplier. We have previously communicated an agreement in Japan, which in itself represents a small monetary business value, but in the long run could result in a big value driver for us. If our Japanese partner is successful in their assay development work, the project could continue as a product development project for a novel diagnostic system containing our separation technology. If the product reaches market, AcouSort will be able to supply the critical separation modules, which is something I consider being a significant value driver.
If you were to highlight to an investor something that is particularly interesting to monitor during 2020 regarding AcouSort, what would it be?
We are in the process to get our ISO-certification that will enable us to produce devices for medical application. Without this certification you cannot be accepted as a sub-supplier for these types of systems. This is something that we are currently in the middle of now, and is of course something that will be interesting to keep an eye on from an investor perspective.
Furthermore, I see an increased inflow of OEM customer leads. I can say that we on average have 2-3 active discussions per month with parties that are interested in exploring the use of our technology. As an investor and shareholder, I would keep track on what we will communicate regarding this.
Also, it is very interesting to follow our different projects, which we have communicated earlier, for example the one we signed during 2018 with Instrumentation Laboratory, and how these develop.
Can you name three reasons as to why AcouSort is a good investment today?
- There is currently a growing demand and a megatrend regarding Point of Care Testing (POCT). Patients, health-care personnel, professionals and different market players want access to answers instantly, which is something that benefits AcouSort.
- Our technology addresses the worlds three largest reasons for disease-related deaths, i.e. cancer, sepsis and cardio-vascular diseases. These three areas cover almost two thirds of disease-related deaths, and our technology is interesting for all medical and research parties that addresses these areas. Hence, our addressable market is of significant size.
- Also, a long-term value driver which we first communicated during mid-2019, is the importance of our technology in early research and biomarker discovery. With our technology, researchers at Lund University were able to identify three new potential biomarkers for coronary artery disease diagnosis. The fact that our technology is an enabler for biomarker discovery is a significant milestone for us and a break through, which in the long term could generate significant value for AcouSort.