Can you pitch your genius business idea in the time it takes to get from the ground floor to the C-suite? SensorHut‘s Tanya Hutter and Marc Stettler, on the Accelerate Cambridge programme (based at Cambridge Judge Business School), get in the elevator.
Misdiagnosed kidney injury kills 1,000 people every month and costs the NHS billions of pounds. Now, the brains behind SensorHut are hoping to make those figures history with their innovative new diagnostic aid, which could make life better for thousands of kidney patients.
Tanya Hutter and Marc Stettler, who met through Cambridge iTeams, which brings together multi-disciplinary teams of students with industry mentors to assess the commercial viability of new technologies and product designs. Both have backgrounds in engineering.
SensorHut is an innovative chemical sensing technology platform that detects different chemical compounds. Currently it uses nanotechnology to increase sensor performance in measuring volatile organic compounds in urine, does not require any blood to be taken and gives results in an hour.
The business case
Trying to diagnose kidney injury using the existing blood test is invasive, time-consuming and delays diagnosis. Our device, based on testing urine, has the potential to reduce the overall costs of treatment through early diagnosis, and patients at risk could be treated there and then, reducing the chances of kidney damage.
We started working on commercialising the sensor technology almost a year ago and the company was officially incorporated in December 2013. Since then, we’ve been exploring different markets and perfecting our technology.
The strategy for growth
SensorHut has potential in both industry and the medical world. At the moment, we’re focused on diagnostics. Our expertise is in research and development, and we plan to exploit our innovations through partnerships and licensing. We now have funding from the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative (NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC) and SBRI (Small Business Research Institute) for a collaborative project to develop a prototype diagnostic device for acute kidney injury (AKI) with clinicians at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
We could use this technology to test for all kinds of diseases using urine and even breath analysis – lung cancer, colon cancer or TB, for example. For the next year will be focused on our AKI project at Addenbrooke’s. The initial feasibility study is due to end at the end of November. If it goes well, we can apply for phase 2 funding, which would take us forward for another year.
We received a £15,000 grant from the Accelerator last month. Some will be used to file for the patent and the rest will be used for lab testing to advance the technology itself. The programme is incredibly helpful – the support was great. Every time we had a question, they had the answer, and their support continues to push us forward.