Last week, I visited Dresden for the first time.
Although I will return as a tourist (it’s a fantastic city, but more on that later), I was there to meet Dr Karim Tabiti – Chief Executive Officer at Biotype Diagnostic – a molecular diagnostic SME with innovative technology and growth plans that are making Dresden a destination for top talent in the biotech space.
On meeting Karim, an industry expert who previously spent 17 years with Roche, I was greeted with a warm handshake and a pleasant welcome to Biotype’s 1,000 sq. m headquarters.
The quality of the facilities struck me immediately; they are certainly not typical of any 50-person companies I have visited before..
Biotype have the technical ability of some of the biggest companies in diagnostics
Biotype have renovated a historical building into a state-of-the-art facility with impressive labs, manufacturing, production and spacious offices – all under one roof. Seeing this type of investment is a refreshing change from the cost-cutting options we see as standard in lots of organisations.
But it’s not just the HQ that impresses. It’s the people and the technology. Incidentally the two main ingredients required to succeed as an SME in the biotech space.
The entrance to Biotype's Dresden HQ
"We have a beautiful technology"
The technology is the QIAGEN-developed Modaplex platform. It’s allowing them to exploit a huge diagnostic gap in the market, bridging the gap between traditional qPCR and NGS. Modaplex allows them to combine Capillary electrophoresis (CE) with standard qPCR to provide highly complex tests. The result is a more affordable option for diagnosis without compromising on quality.
And this lower cost could be crucial. Clinical NGS is exciting but what is most important? For me, it’s making diagnosis available far and wide at a reasonable cost and making sure people are receiving treatment quickly, which NGS doesn’t currently allow. The ambition to make NGS accessible to all is, in my opinion, idealistic. In an ideal world, yes, but unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.
Dr Tabiti knows this too. He’s worked in the industry for many years and had this to say on clinical NGS:
“You just have a tremendous complexity. This is, now, more used in a research environment. This is more for discovery. There are people who say this will be standard routine diagnostic. I don't believe that's going to be true soon”.
As well as the prohibitive cost, there are also very few diseases where you really need the level of complexity offered by NGS. In short, in makes things tremendously expensive. Thousands of dollars per test expensive.
So, Biotype aren’t following the current NGS trend. But they still have “beautiful technology”.
That was the description given to me by Joeri Kint, Head of Product Management B2B. Whilst beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the potential and the capabilities of their technology and diagnostic platforms are impossible to ignore. Joeri is ex-MSD and knows the importance of investment and technology. Biotype have managed to acquire a technology that has received close to $100M of investment. This puts them, a smaller team, in the unique position of owning one of the most powerful pieces of technology on the market today.
Dr Tabiti added:
“I think the beauty of this company is that…we have everything; we can offer everything that a large multinational diagnostic company can offer.
We have manufacturing facilities, we have all departments that you would need under one roof. We also just opened a site in the U.S. We hired the first two people in the U.S and we also have all processes of a large company, but we're still a small company and people can influence the whole success of the company.
Whatever you do, you can directly see the impact of what you're doing.”
The synergy between C-Level and the other departments is clear to see. Their offices are close together and so is the shared vision. When asking Dr Kathleen Clauβ – Key Account Manager B2B – if Biotype can establish itself as a major technology provider, she confidently replied:
“Yes. We believe in the technology”.
This sums up the organisation. Well-oiled, ambitious, and on the same page. You can feel it in the atmosphere of the HQ.
What About the Future?
Dr Tabiti joined Biotype just over 3 years ago. He was hired by owner Dr William Zörgiebel to help realise his ambitious growth plans for the company. A serial entrepreneur, Dr Zörgiebel tasked him with taking Biotype to the next level.
Since then the company have enjoyed significant growth and are now being recognised for their quality of product and service through partnerships with some of the biggest contract research organisations in the world.
But whilst a vision, strong leadership and best-in-class facilities help, that’s not enough on its own to make a company a success in molecular diagnostics. It’s the technology that does that, and everyone I met at Biotype was passionate about theirs.
Aside from what we’d already discussed I asked Dr Tabiti, why would someone want to join Biotype?
“[At Biotype] you have the best of both worlds. You’re not in a start-up environment, or an environment where things aren’t available, or the experience isn’t there. However, on the other hand, the company isn’t so big that you’re lost in processes or you don’t oversee the entirety of what you’re doing.”
That means every new hire with the business has a huge part to play in the future of the company.
“ I think that’s the real fun of it. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Biotype now”
As well as being impressed with Biotype, I was blown away by Dresden.
It’s a wonderful city with great architecture, fantastic local vineyards, and many great restaurants. You can spend hours meandering through the cobbled streets, finding pop up bars and great food along the way. Property is affordable, work/life balance is encouraged, and (surprisingly) you can expect 30-degree summers.
For those that love the great outdoors it provides amazing countryside on your doorstep and the quite breath-taking Bastei.
The Bastei Rock Formation
But if you want to stay in the city then you can also enjoy the opera, local wines, and architecture.
On a personal level, I got the feeling that I was visiting a company with a singular vision and that everyone in their Dresden HQ was working toward the same end goal for the company. The staff all possessed a real sense of ownership over their work and knew they were having a positive impact on the direction of the business, which felt like an exciting combination.
The time I spent exploring made me think of the city as an expanding, cosmopolitan place with a great future. Perhaps that’s why everyone I spoke to from Biotype felt so at home there.
For further insight into Biotype Diagnostic & Dresden, check this video from the owner himself
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