Belgium-based miDiagnostics, a company developing a next-generation diagnostic platform based on silicon nanofluidic processor, announced that it has signed a €20M loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
With this investment, EIB looks to strengthen home-grown European technology that can play an important role in bringing the pandemic under control.
In 2020 alone, the EIB made available nearly €1.3B in loans for Belgian projects in various sectors, including healthcare, water management, education, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
EU finance for innovators
The EIB funding is supported by the European Commission through InnovFin – EU finance for innovators programme, under the Infectious Diseases Finance Facility (IDFF) window.
Under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation framework programme for 2014-2020, the IDFF provides financial products ranging from standard debt to equity-type financing. The amount is typically between €7.5M and €75M provided to innovative players active in developing or manufacturing innovative vaccines, medicines, medical and diagnostic devices or novel research to combat infectious diseases.
This facility is delivered directly by the EIB, which has so far provided €479.5M under the InnovFin IDFF.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, says, “The European Commission has been at the forefront of supporting research and innovation and coordinating European and global research efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic. To fight the disease we need vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tools. Today, we are extending our support to miDiagnostics in their efforts towards the development of a rapid PCR test for Sars-CoV-2.”
How will funds be used?
The raised capital will help miDiagnostics to support its research and development activities targeting infectious diseases and, in particular, accelerate the market launch of its new rapid Covid-19 PCR test.
With the ongoing coronavirus crisis, miDiagnostics adapted its R&D and product development plans towards the development of a rapid PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, aimed at providing PCR accuracy while being just as fast as rapid antigen tests. Tests in the field, specifically at Brussels Airport, started last month.
Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board at miDiagnostics, says, “We are extremely pleased with the €20M support from the EIB. This will help the company roll out its first ultrafast COVID-19 product, with a launch planned for spring next year. This loan will be employed to scale-up the process and to ensure that miDiagnostics can have a significant impact on the management and surveillance of this pandemic and potential future pandemics.”
Aims to deliver fast, comprehensive, and cost-effective health analysis
Founded in 2015 by Nicolas Vergauwe, miDiagnostics is active in the development of a new generation diagnostic platform for point-of-care testing based on nano-fluidic semiconductor technology.
The technology platform claims to have the potential to radically miniaturise and simplify the diagnostics process leading to a significant cost reduction and enabling true point-of-care diagnostics.
EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters says, “I think everybody wants to put the Covid-19 times behind us as quickly as we can. But to do that, we need a number of measures and tools that allow authorities to quickly and accurately identify infections to limit the overall infection rates. The system developed by miDiagnostics can be an important part of that puzzle and, just like the vaccine research and development that we have financially supported, the EIB is proud to get behind the company.”
miDiagnostics spun out of IMEC, a R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, and a research collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, the US research and medical centre.
In addition, the company is also collaborating with NASA through its relationship with IMEC, having been selected to test miDiagnostics’ reader and CBC technology on parabolic test flights that simulate low-gravity environments.