The nanocoated glass slide developed by the company is being used to improve the images produced by microscopes, making them dozens of times more accurate than the current technology. These slides enable identifying coronavirus at an earlier stage and diagnosing the virus from blood, which also speeds up the diagnosis process.
‘Some of our pilots at institutions such as Stanford University started researching the virus with our technology, and since then we have found that our technology is suitable for applications related to diagnosing coronavirus as well as pharmaceutical development against the virus. Coronavirus samples, whether they are blood, nasal or pharyngeal samples, are usually diagnosed with microscopes or various reagents. On the other hand, we can incorporate our nanocoating into the equipment being used or on add it on the glass slides where samples are placed. With this small change, the virus can be detected with more accuracy and at an earlier stage from samples, and earlier and more accurate results are available for pharmaceutical testing as well. It requires zero changes to the equipment or work process that is being used’, says Timo Jäntti, CEO of XFold Imaging.
At the moment, the technology by XFold Imaging Oy is being tested in Finland at the University of Helsinki, Viikki Biocenter, and Biomedicum in Meilahti. In addition, the company now has pilots in the scientific communities of universities such as Okinawa in Japan, Stanford and Boston in the USA, and Belgium, France and Denmark.
‘Right now, we are hoping to get our nanotechnology to every coronavirus research team and make it possible for them to achieve results faster with coronavirus diagnostics as well as pharmaceutical development against coronavirus,’ says Jäntti.
Originating from Aalto Startup Center, the company currently employs three people directly and is involved in active development with its stakeholders around the world. Funded by Business Finland and Butterfly Ventures among others, the company’s technology will have many different applications in the future.
‘In a way, this is about signal boosting, and we have received preliminary enquiries about improving technology such as gas sensors and radio signals. With space technology, one thing we can do is create the same sensor accuracy with significantly lower energy consumption’, Jäntti lists.
‘But say we can get our glass slides in all the poor countries in the world; this small change could elevate the capabilities of healthcare in these countries to match Western standards’, he continues.
At the moment, however, XFold Imaging is strictly focused on helping in the fight against coronavirus.
‘The goal now is to provide as much of our expertise as possible to the diagnostics of coronavirus and pharmaceutical development against coronavirus. As a part of this, we would be happy to make partnership agreements with pharmaceutical or diagnostics companies or bring along an investor who would have an interest in further accelerating large-scale internationalisation and the utilisation of our technology’, Jäntti outlines.
Aalto University plays a significant role
XFold Imaging is one of the companies that the Aalto University business accelerator Aalto Startup Center has helped to get started. The Center provides these companies with the cross-disciplinary expertise in design, business and technology of Aalto University as well as networks.
Timo Jäntti considers the support from the Startup Center to have been a great help in the early stages of his company.
‘Thanks to Aalto Startup Centre, we had a good framework for launching our business, and we were able to benefit from the existing network so that we could do the right things in the right way without any false starts; there’s no need to trip on every stone on your way. Joining the Center has been one of the best decisions so far’, Jäntti says.
‘It is a pleasure to see and help promising companies and entrepreneurs get started in their careers. It is really important to us. XFold Imaging is also an example of how investing in technology will help us tackle this current crisis and future ones as well. We at Aalto Startup Center want to be at the forefront with our contribution’, says Päivi Meros, Marketing and Communications Specialist at Aalto Startup Center.
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Aalto Startup Center
Aalto Startup Center is a business accelerator for start-up companies that are less than three years old, with a particular focus on the technological field. The accelerator utilises the interdisciplinary competence offered by Aalto University in design, business and technology as well as the expertise and networks of the university. The participants include companies both from within Aalto and outside of it, and the accelerator also creates business activities from research-based projects. Currently, there are about 40 companies at Aalto Startup Center, 10 of which operate under Esa Bic Finland, which focuses on space technology and is a member of Aalto Startup Center. Aalto Startup Center’s premises are located in Otaniemi, Espoo. https://startupcenter.aalto.fi/