In this week's interview with last year's EIT Awards winners, we speak with Ioannis Tarnanas.
The Awards showcase the best ideas and innovators from the growing EIT Community over the last year, and provide a valuable means of boosting the visibility of projects, ideas and people.
Ioannis is the founder of Altoida and winner of the 2018 Innovators Award.
How did you experience the EIT Awards and your win?
The EIT innovators award recognition is by far the most important benefit, apart from the money. You can consider the award as a 'wake up call' to all wannabe entrepreneurs! The experience and lessons learned are just invaluable and you would have to spend many years and burn money at the field before you can get the same experience on your own.
How did your innovation develop after your win? Did the prize money help? How was it used?
Our product/service for early screening is well positioned at a niche market because of our clinical trial data to date. This has been the core of our project from the start, since we are a data-driven start-up. The market in general is quite promising but still untapped. It is not common knowledge yet that a software solution can offer early screening for AD comparable to some biomarkers. The prize money helped so that we continue expanding on our dataset and clinical trials. More specifically, it was used for additional collection of high quality data together with a pharma sponsor, which is difficult to be collected in an accelerated mode by a big corporation alone (because of the algorithmic complexity of digital biomarkers) and this is what is keeping Altoida ahead of the competition for the future.
What are your plans for the future? How will you develop?
We have by now an FDA cleared and reimbursed product, which we used to raise our Series A funding. We have also opened up the markets at USA, Brazil, DACH and recently Japan. The main goal for Series A is to become the largest and most comprehensive digital biomarkers platform, not only for dementia but also other diseases of the brain. Creating such a platform and dataset is the holy grail for attacking vulnerabilities of the brain early and at the most scalable manner.
Have you been involved with the EIT Community since your win? Have you received any more support from the EIT Community?
The EIT Community is an excellent filter and pre-selection mechanism for promising start-ups. We believe that the benefit for the European industry is twofold: a) It completely registers and ranks the R&D done at the top academic institutions & startups and gives a very good overview of the trends and b) It filters and boosts the selected few that can actually generate revenue and thus bring money back to the European society. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any additional financial support from the EIT Community, but we didn’t look for it. We did, however, receive a lot of networking and mentoring support.
Do you have any advice for the 2019 EIT Awards nominees?
Keep chasing your dreams. The route to success is tough and you make a lot of sacrifices along the way. There are no recipes and nobody knows what the 'next big thing' is. However, your passion, motivation and knowledge are your tools that will give you the edge and as we say here at Altoida AG: 'Your time is important, but so is your knowledge'!!