HK-Dtech – commercialization strategy
HK-Dtech is a spinoff company from Hong Kong Baptist University specializing in the field of in-vitro diagnostics and life science. Thanks to the research and work of our experts, we can improve current screening and early diagnosis of diseases. This will allow an increase in the success of treatments and the quality of care for patients.
Laurent Koehler is the Chief Business Development Officer for HK-Dtech and will be the driving force behind the commercialization stage that company is now entering into.
Interviewee Laurent Koehler (LK)
Position Chief Business Development Officer (CBO)
Company name HK-Dtech (‘HKD’)
Company website https://hk-dtech.com/
Interviewer John D. Evans, CFA (JE)
Interview conducted on 26 July 2022
JE Good day. And welcome to the viewers of this episode of SEIML Ventures. I am your host, John Evans. Today we are speaking with Laurent Koehler, who is the Chief Business Development Officer for Hong Kong Dtech and he is the driving force behind the commercialization stage that his company is just now starting. As background, Hong Kong Dtech is a spin off company from Hong Kong Baptist University, specializing in the field of in-vitro diagnostics and life science. Thanks to the research and work of its experts, it can improve current screening and early diagnosis of many diseases. This will lead to an increase in the success of treatments and the quality of health care for patients. So, on that note, welcome back, Laurent. Nice to see you again.
LK Thank you, John, and good afternoon to you. And thank you for having me again, on your channel. It’s really a great pleasure. And thank you for everything you’re doing for the eco system and whole industry.
JE Let’s have a bit of a catch up. It has been almost one year since our first discussion. So just bring the viewers up to date about what has happened inside the company since that time, any events briefly, but end with a comment you are now starting this commercialization stage that we really want to focus on.
LK Yeah, I guess it’s a really great idea to start with a quick catchup because quite a lot actually has happened since our last interview. So just to briefly give you the main achievement and fact, you know, over the past 12 months, so let’s start in a chronological order. So first, you know, we’ve been working and adding two more proof of concept on the r&d levels. So, for ELIZA, and LFIA types of diagnostic techniques, so ELIZA being the antibody tests, you know, that usually are broad based, so the classic serological test that everybody knows. And then if I add the rapid test, I mean, what’s commonly name is rapid test, we also submit as the main focus where the over the past 12 months, and regarding commerce, let’s say business developments, we had the chance to attend in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong medical Fair last year in October. Also, we were the booths in the Asia Summit on global health, which was in November last year also. So, this, those two were like physical events within the pandemic was that was really great for us, we could meet a lot of people. Then we got the renewal of our, like tissue grants, you know, for the second year, which is the public grant, one of the grants we win from the Hong Kong government. We also have been accepted in the Science Park incubation programme sorts in the same time in the end of last year, and we studied exactly on 25th of February this year. So now we are we are incubating at Science Park. And, and so since then, we’ve been working on the release of the first range of products, which is a detection kit that we just launched last month in July. And we are about to release in September in our reader for a fluorescent probe that we co developed with a French company, a company in France. So, this is the this is the next product. So now we are let’s say ready to roll. It’s pretty excited. And then if you have any question, I’ll be happy to.
The Product and Service offering
JE Okay, great. So, let’s focus on your last two points and delve into the product and service offerings. Tell us about the core offering of Hong Kong Dtech. And in sort of generic terms that the ordinary listener can understand. And then the specific solutions or applications that that you were being offered.
LK Okay, so basically, no, we escaped detection, we serve mostly RUO and IVD industry. So are your standing, you know, for researchers only. So, it’s mostly like any biology research lab, normally private or public, and IVD industries relative to all the IVD players. So, it’s key manufacturers, it could be service company, distributor, all the players dealing with antibody and protein, okay. So basically, we provide them nanoparticles which enhance the work no matter in the fields of research, where they could, they can, like make discovery much faster and at a cheaper cost. And on the IVD side, the use of nanoparticles give them a much lower level of detection, right, and so the accuracy in the result that was so much better, which improves substantially the results and the product, the quality of the product of this company. So that’s to summarize quickly what we are doing in the two main types of customers.
JE Okay, so you said you’re serving two parts of the industry that RUO, and the IVD. So, who are your actual core customers? Are they end users of the products, distributors of the products to end users? Or both?
LK Yep. So that’s also a very good question. So, we target mostly end user right but we’re also open to distributors, in some cases where we cannot work directly. In some in some country, for example, you have some barrier to access, you know, mostly due to some regulatory that we may not have yet, you know, or that just the markets aren’t structured, according to the regulation requires you to work with a local company. So, then there are distributors, you know, but as much as we can we target the end users.
JE OK. So, who are the competitors that you were facing? And how does your offering compare or differ to these other competitors?
LK Yeah, this is a great question. So we are our production we’re doing reagents and so if you if you know, the reagent market is mainly dominated by a multinational company and you can we can just mention like Thermo Fisher or I know Perkin Elmer that our main competition in terms of multinational, but they also some startups working on similar, you know, cases and solution, you know, but no matter it’s, whether its multinational or startup they all have different technology, different than ours. And so, the features are not the same than ours. And to just summarize, we offer like all the best features in only one product while the others, the technology, just some of them. So, this is really the main difference.
The Commercialization Strategy
JE Yeah. So, we’ve talked about the products, the customers the competition, let’s now talk about Hong Kong Dtech’s commercialization strategy. Explain to us your strategy, of working with customers to work together to further the development of the offering. It’s something I’ve noticed on your website and brochure.
LK Yeah, so this, you know, and this can bounce back on your previous question, why we target, you know, users, it’s, you know, because that gives us a much better, you know, position to get feedback, right. Because the first thing is that it’s new products, and it’s not obviously easy for everybody, for anybody to just like, try and be successful at using it. So we want to make sure first that the, you know, they are able to use it properly and get the full benefits of for a technology, but also that, you know, to find if there’s any need or obstacle that we may not be aware of right now and to just get like those feedback to then further work on the product development and be able to improve to release, upgraded version in the coming months, you know. That’s, something that is really key for us. And being in direct contact end user that’s what makes this possible.
JE So let me ask a follow up question to that. Because I’m curious that if this is going to be sort of a very close knit, integrated working relationship with customers where you’re developing it together, how many of those customers do you expect to work with during this period? Because it sounds like each relationship will need a lot of time and attention.
LK Yeah, and yeah, this indeed, you know, that even if now we will be just overflown by request, we know that we’ve to the current stage of development, the team and the resources we have, it’s to be to be able to deliver like a good job, we need to we cannot follow up too many customers. So, what we aim is like, you know, to have on 10 customers in Hong Kong, which is our local market, domestic market, right, that we are starting with over the coming six to 12 months. We know that will be already like I would say more than enough. Yeah, but it’s a realistic target. And also, it’s really seeking in terms of follow up, you know, that’s, as you mentioned, it wouldn’t make no sense to have to have a 20, 30 customers, you know, that we wouldn’t be able to follow up with properly.
JE Okay, Laurent, so walk us through some of the following key points, when does your launch start?
LK So, the launch has actually already started, you know, with the release of the product last month, and it will be over a period of six months, until the end of this year. Since you know, we have some commercial events in Hong Kong. So, we have the medical fair in November as well as the Asia global summit on health, but we were also the booth and we had in December, a third exhibition in Hong Kong which will be HK bio organized by the Hong Kong biotech organization. So, these are those are in the free main event that will attend in this year will attend with our products on the on the booths, right, unlike last year, where we couldn’t display any final products. So that’s why this is really the period and to the end of this year. So, we are focusing the sense they fought beyond those six months and, and the coming like 12 months from now until next year, same period of time will be dedicated to these events.
JE Okay, so you’re going to some Asian fairs, but the geographic area you are targeting is just Hong Kong in your first stage.
LK Yep, yep. So, but maybe we’ve also the, the fairs in Hong Kong is mostly the attendees are like people from Hong Kong, we may meet some people from overseas with the change in the travel restriction. So that would be great. But definitely the main focus is Hong Kong, even though we are thinking about next stage, which will be Asia developments. And this for this part, we are now studying two markets that we are considering to trial shortly in the coming months to see which one we should tap into next year, because the launch in Asia will start from next year from the second part of 2023. That’s what we were going to have like action, commercial action, you know, towards markets outside of Hong Kong. But definitely the priority at this stage is Hong Kong. That’s where we’re Incorporated, we can meet people we can really spend time we can understand the problematic we can also explain how to use the technology, spend time in lab to see experiments. And you know, this this is much, much better situation than working remotely, especially in this time spending with all the restrictions.
JE We’ve talked about the very interactive collaborative approach you’re going to be taking with your initial customers and you’re focusing on Hong Kong. So, have you actually selected those 10 customers for your initial start yet?
LK So, we actually yeah, we already have quite a lot of contacts, you know, following last year, following some prospection that was pulling the fare that I mentioned we attended. So, we already have people that we reconnected recently following the release of the launch so we’ll see that’s how it goes. We obviously will also approach other new contacts that you know convert so but the ultimate goal is to get, you know, 10, then it’s a regular user within this launch period.
JE OK, so I’ve seen there’s, there’s a lot of new collateral that you’ve been putting out recently. So, tell us about what else you’re doing to support this launch, events, collateral, other types of promotion, etc.
LK Yeah, so we actually work on quite a lot of things over the past six months, you know, starting early this year. So first in terms of tools, you know, we first revamped our website. So, the website is, is complete, you know, you can find a lot of information and very precise detail and information about the technology or product. That’s one thing, we also have an online shop on the website where people in the lab scan you know, other know if they need anything for their work. So that’s one thing, we created new marketing materials. We also created one special offer for the launch, it’s called a Starter Pack, which is asked for people to try our nanoparticles with these special prices. So, this is on the tool side. On marketing, we have launched a campaign on ResearchGate, which, which is really the main platform, you know, in the industry, we also do we spend more time and we’re more active on the digital presence on the web, and mainly through LinkedIn and Twitter, where we have weekly tweets. And finally, in terms of team. So, we are now in the process of hiring a former executive from the industry. So, this person specializes in cancer research, and biomedical engineering, genomic technology, biomedical testing services, in vitro diagnostic tendencies and he has extensive experience in both r&d business in project development. So, this person will be able to, to introduce various steps on both commercial and, and scientific level. He will also get access to public hospitals, which could be really great to get samples, but also like clinical trial. So that’s, we are very happy to have this person joining the team. And on top of that, something I forgot to mention this person know, it’s been working for us and prod for a very long time, you know, we well, the specific, that tech industry that we’re working on. And, and so that’s really helped a lot, because it’s really, it’s very thrilled about that very enthusiastic and, and it’s, it’s really a great opportunity to have this person to join the team and to help us to really go and go beyond what we could probably do alone in this stage. So that’s, that’s probably the, the main domain and the most powerful factor in your vectoring of the success. And yeah, so that’s this person is probably starting, like should started in the coming days. So, we are very excited to push things to the next level.
JE Just a follow-up, explain to the viewers exactly what Research Gate is, is this a social media site? Just give us a bit more detail about that.
LK Yeah, so we can say, ResearchGate, so basically, it’s a website, though, which connects only scientific so that means people who have no scientific background means education or that are not working in, in this type of industry, I cannot have access, you know, that that’s one thing. And you know, so there is a lot of sharing about, about information that was publication, but also by new product, new technology. So, it’s actually it’s one of the, probably the main online resource for people to you know, to look for anything they need in in r&d. So ResearchGate it’s like, it’s, it’s, let’s say she can compare it to, to, let’s say social media, it’s, I would say it’s like LinkedIn, it could be for the professional industry and Facebook for personal matters. But it’s a really, really, it’s the key and the main, the main platform. So, it’s really, it’s extremely powerful tools, you know, you can reach like, all scientific in the world because a lot of them on this platform, and it’s an incredibly powerful tool.
Key goals for 2022
JE Okay. Very interesting. Okay. I mean, you you’ve summarized most of the points of your strategy, but let’s just close things off by looking at the last five months of 2022. What do you hope to achieve what are your key goals that you would want to reach by the end of this calendar? A year.
LK Yes, so as I mentioned, previous needs to add to reach like, you know, targets of about, you know, 10 customers in Hong Kong. And, okay, this is just whoever, let’s say it’s on purely commercial. But we also target to have feedback from them, you know that that’s really something that I mentioned earlier. So, it’s very important. And finally, everything will lead us to more exposure and more credibility on the market, not just in Hong Kong, but also beyond Hong Kong. So that’s why the goal is to be able to add to this person’s footprint in the Hong Kong market. So that’s the plan till the end of the year.
JE And the end of the year is fast approaching. So, we’ll, we’ll look forward and pencil in another date, either at the end of December, or the beginning of January to look back at the five months and see how things went.
LK And yeah, I mean, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly, yeah, we should definitely have a review. As you said, yeah, not December or early January for Chinese New Year will be really great to see what has been achieved. And I’ll be happy to come again and to share more and to really see what we’ve been what we’ve achieved by them, and maybe tell you a bit more, but on to the plan for next year.
JE That’s great. And when this video is published, we’ll be showing a number of graphics, I’ve got your brochures, I’ve seen the various aspects to your website. So, we’ll highlight some of the things that you reference, you’ve got some very interesting visuals there, that that we’ll also insert into the video. So, Laurent, thank you very much for your time. That was a very interesting update. Let’s not leave it for another one year, maybe diarize five months now. And because of things think, seems like things are starting to move much more quickly for Hong Kong Dtech. And I wish you the best fortune for your next phase of commercialization.
LK Yeah, thank you, John. Thank you again, for your time for fun, you’ve done and, indeed, let’s catch up maybe on the more frequent, frequent, that’s really great. And so that’s one thing. Yeah, let’s catch up more often. And yes, sir. Thank you again for everything, and Amin. I’ll be looking forward to the next. Next interview next year.
JE Okay. Sounds good. So, thanks for your time. Have a good day.
LK Thank you very much, John, and see you next time. Okay.