AgaMatrix is a development stage venture based in Boston offering proprietary Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology that dramatically improves the functionality and performance of biosensor devices. AgaMatrix’s core DSP algorithms solve a number of immediate problems in the medical devices market by significantly boosting the performance of biosensors without costly specialized hardware and additional chemicals. Initially, AgaMatrix will sell to medical device makers, specifically, home blood glucose monitors and hospital point-of-care blood analyzers. AgaMatrix anticipates achieving positive cash flow by year three with future target healthcare segments to include the large immunoassay and implantable biosensor sectors; as well as other vertical industries that heavily rely on biosensors, such as the military chemical agent detection, environmental air/water quality monitoring, and industrial processing sectors.
Problem – Glucose Monitors Are Burdensome, Painful To Use
Many diabetic patients fail to use home blood glucose devices as prescribed because the regimen is too burdensome or too physically painful. Four to seven times a day, a patient must puncture his or her finger to draw blood onto a test strip for insertion into the glucose biosensor. The average compliance rate for testing is less than 1.5 times a day, resulting in the acceleration of complications caused by diabetes, such as blindness, stroke, and heart and kidney failure. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in individuals aged 20-74 and better glucose monitoring compliance is the single biggest key to prevention. Device makers have identified the physical pain of using existing devices as the root cause of non-compliance, and they are seeking ways to reduce the sample size required by their devices. AgaMatrix technology will enable less invasive drawing mechanisms to meet the overwhelming demand for less painful alternatives.
Problems in the hospital blood analyzer market are more related to the lack of the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the devices, which results in reduced adoption levels. AgaMatrix’s value proposition to this market is very clear: devices that are more accurate and sensitive will stand a higher chance of being more readily adopted.
A Software Solution for a Hardware Problem
Historically, the biosensor device industry has attempted to overcome problems related to accuracy, sensitivity, and robustness by enhancing the chemical (hardware) aspects of the devices, such as the biological and chemical design of their sensors. By contrast, AgaMatrix is pioneering a software approach based on digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms that has a number of distinct practical advantages, including lower cost, easier/faster upgrade capability, and complementarity with respect to a wide variety of chemistry/hardware-based biosensor technologies.
AgaMatrix’s solution, consisting of a suite of software modules, enables new functionality and dramatically improves the performance of biosensor devices. Performance improvements include the ability to leverage increases in signal-to-noise ratio to reduce blood sample requirements. For the professional healthcare market, AgaMatrix offers the ability to improve the overall accuracy and sensitivity of hospital point-of-care analyzers. Boosting accuracy removes a major roadblock hindering widespread adoption of portable blood analyzers in place of conventional laboratory equipment.
Software DSP solutions have been vital to the success of many other industries where physical limitations would have impaired their growth. For example, in the 1980s, makers of CD players relied on oversampling and error-correction algorithms to compensate for low quality hardware filters and to overcome disk-skipping problems. AgaMatrix’s algorithms provide analogous solutions in the biosensor space.
Business Model – Software Licensing and Royalty Fees from Device Makers
Initially, AgaMatrix will operate as a technology licensing company, deriving royalty revenue streams based on device makers’ consumables sales (i.e., disposable test strips and cartridges used in the devices). Revenues will be acquired from the sale of the technology to home blood glucose device makers, hospital point-of-care blood analyzer makers, and minimally invasive and implantable blood glucose biosensor developers.
Therasense – an Illustration of How Disruptable the Glucose Market Is
Just a few years ago, the blood glucose market was dominated by four major players (numbers represent annual revenues from test strips): Roche ($1.27B), J & J ($1.09B), Bayer ($650M), and Abbot ($450M). These companies have been around since the 1980’s. Therasense (THER) was founded in 1996, rolled out their first product in June 2000, and leveraged their key differentiator (very similar to what AgaMatrix is offering): the ability to reduce blood sample volume to make glucose testing less painful. In the span of less than two years since their product roll-out, they have achieved $200 million in annual revenues, gone public, and now have a market capitalization of over $800 million. Bottom line: this is a market that is very open to new technological entrants, especially when they are able to reduce pain for the user.
There are no direct competitors pursuing our highly unique and proprietary approach, developed over the past seven years by our world-class scientific team. AgaMatrix technology will be complementary to potential indirect competition from the in-house laboratories of major medical device makers. The sustainable competitive advantages that AgaMatrix commands include:
- Superior software paradigm, complementary to chemical (hardware) advances in biosensors.
- Expertise developed over the course of seven years of biosensor research.
- Monopolization of the scientific team responsible for the original paradigm innovation.
- Development lead time of at least two years over potential competition.
- Intellectual property strategy involving two core utility patents (filed) and three defensive utility patents.
We have approached two blood glucose monitor makers and one hospital point-of-care device manufacturer as potential customer targets. There are over 20 other major potential target companies we have not yet approached. The following is a summary of the current status of the companies we have reached:
- Strong interest to partner from two blood glucose monitor companies (discussions with Presidents); details are confidential at this point, but we believe we will be able to close a deal by June 2002.
- Strong interest from a leading blood glucose monitor maker (J & J – discussions with Director-level staff) and the leading hospital point-of-care device maker (i-STAT – discussions with Vice President and Director-level staff).
A current team composed of:
- The three leading scientists pioneering the use of digital signal processing to improve biosensor technology, with an aggregate of over 40 years of direct DSP/biosensor research experience.
- Entrepreneurs who have founded, built and run an enterprise software company.
- An expanding board of veteran advisors made up of medical doctors who have healthcare business experience.
- An additional technical team of three committed to joining the company post-seed financing, composed of engineers from MIT and Tufts, with technical management experience and an aggregate of over 25 years of commercial engineering experience.
AgaMatrix has been self-funded by the principals of the company since its founding. The company recently closed a seed round of $500K from a number of healthcare angel investors and IncTANK, an early stage venture capital fund. A Series A round is expected in four to five months of approximately $1 million.
The objectives of these rounds of funding are the completion of version 1.0 of the products and the acquisition of at least one paying customer over a period of 13 months of operations. Given the current state of customer traction and product development, we believe these milestones are reasonable. The company expects to raise an institutional or another private round of about $4 million by the end of year one to be cash flow positive. Current valuation drivers include:
- A world-class scientific team consisting of Dr. Sridhar Iyengar (CTO), Dr. Justin Gooding, and Dr. Ian Harding, the engineering team, and an aggressive business team with start-up and management experience.
- Technology applicable to a number of other vertical markets and protected by a rigorous IP strategy.
- External validation from existing relationships with potential customers and advancement to final rounds in a number of national business plan competitions.
AgaMatrix develops solutions to power next-generation biological and chemical sensor systems. The value that AgaMatrix delivers to this market is the ability to dramatically improve the accuracy, sensitivity, and robustness of a range of different sensors for the purpose of making medical diagnostic devices more effective. AgaMatrix’s technology enables the development of devices that will be essentially painless to patients and that will meet the demand for better accuracy in medical diagnostics. It is committed to providing software solutions for a critical hardware problem that affects millions of diabetic patients and hospital patients worldwide.
- Develop technology solutions that will increase the adoption and compliance rates of diagnostic medical devices by improving the functionality and performance of biosensors, specifically for home blood glucose monitors and hospital point-of-care blood analyzers.
- Achieve positive cash flow by year three.
- Reach $50 million in annual revenues by year four.
- Expand into other industries that heavily rely on biosensors, including industrial processing, environmental monitoring, and military sectors.