Belgium-based Hippo Dx, a MedTech startup that has developed an allergy testing device that is faster, cheaper, and more accurate, announced that it has secured €4.4M in a fresh round of funding to scale up internationally.
The company has raised funding from existing and new investors, including LRM and the American Allerfund Ventures.
Founded in 2020, Hippo Dx has developed S.P.A.T. (Skin Prick Automated Test), an innovative medical device addressing the need for automation and accuracy in allergy testing.
Co-founded by Senne Gorris, an ear-nose-throat surgeon, Wim Hofkens, a Mechatronics Engineer, and Peter De Roovere, a Software Engineer, the Hippo Dx’s device offers faster, more precise, and consistent allergy testing.
The company’s aim is to reduce misdiagnosis rates in the 45 per cent of the world’s population suffering from allergies.
Innovative device for allergy tests
The prevalence of allergies worldwide is on the rise with as many as half of Europeans projected to suffer from an allergy by 2025. Contributing factors include increased hygiene in childhood, high antibiotic consumption, and climate change-related exposure to new substances.
Tom Vanham, GM of LRM, says, “Allergies are seriously on the rise. So Hippo Dx is just in time with the commercialisation of its innovative SPAT device. With about 100 hospitals in Belgium, over 500 in the Netherlands and over 3,000 in both France and Germany, their market potential at home and in neighboring countries is very large.”
“Moreover, because their device is so innovative, efficient, fast and accurate, they can eventually aim for the whole world, because a similar device with so many advantages does not exist.”
“The story that Senne Gorris and his team are telling here is one that a fellow countryman should be proud of. With the Limburg Investment Company LRM, we are happy to put our shoulders under promising startups and scale-ups,” adds Vanham.
Hippo Dx has developed an innovative device to automate, speed up, and improve allergy detection tests, addressing the cumbersome and labour-intensive nature of current methods.
This advancement is crucial for timely diagnosis, effective management, and improved quality of life for allergy sufferers. The device has already been adopted by hospitals in Belgium and is seen as a solution to healthcare challenges, such as staff shortages and high costs.
The company, led by specialist Senne Gorris, has developed the Skin Prick Automated Test (SPAT) to revolutionise allergy testing. Introduced in 2020, the SPAT device can conduct 12 tests on the forearm in 10 seconds.
Device approval in hospitals
Hippo Dx’s SPAT device is approved for hospital use. Initially targeting the domestic and nearby markets, notable medical institutions such as UZ Leuven, AZ Herentals, Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg and CHU Luik, have already adopted it.
Additionally, the company is developing an AI-based method to analyse SPAT images, offering diagnostic suggestions to physicians based on patients’ allergen reactions, enhancing the device’s capabilities.
Senne Goris, co-founder of Hippo Dx, says, “Not only in Europe do we notice a significant increase in the number of allergies. In America, too, we see a great need for everything related to food allergies.”
“The most common food allergies include shellfish, milk, and nuts. In addition, 10 per cent of people have one or more food allergies. The fact that American Allerfund Ventures is co-investing in our story strengthens our belief that we can also open the door to the American market,” adds Goris.
Hippo Dx’s diagnostics differ from existing prick and blood tests
Hippo Dx’s testing device distinguishes itself as the only product of its kind on the market. Unlike traditional methods, this device automates both sample collection and analysis, improving efficiency and reducing errors.
Importantly, Hippo Dx’s innovation involves enhancing an existing testing process rather than introducing a new technique, ensuring a smooth reimbursement process and easier integration into established healthcare systems.
Gorris says, “The problem with allergies is that there are a lot of different symptoms. So to be sure, you have to do an allergy test. Today, there are two ways to test patients for allergies: a skin prick test and a blood test.”
“In the first, the doctor makes small scratches on the patient’s forearm into which various allergen drops are then applied. If, after 15 minutes, a lump, itching and redness appear, it means that the patient is reacting and thus probably allergic to that particular allergen.”
“The skin prick test is relatively inexpensive and can be performed anywhere, but takes time and the quality of the result varies. Blood sampling is faster and thus the most commonly chosen option, but it is less precise, you don’t know the result right away, and it is more expensive.”
“All these disadvantages are eliminated when using our SPAT device. In addition, the SPAT device has additional advantages. The healthcare sector is struggling with low budgets on the one hand and a shortage of personnel on the other. With efficiency gains through automation, the ROI for hospitals is therefore quickly apparent,” adds Gorris.