Pasi Karjalainen has a background as a physicist, and he heads the HUMEA Laboratory at UEF. In his eyes, piloting innovations into start-ups is also on his list of tasks. Karjalainen has been involved in the first steps of several research-based health technology companies, such as Adamant Health Oy. Kubios Oy and Heart2Save Oy have also originated from the work of the HUMEA Laboratory researchers. Karjalainen has helped the CorFlux team in applying for funding, team building and regulation, which is a key part of health technology.
“The team's idea must be developed into such a strong prototype that it can be entered into a quality management system, according to which the documentation for the CE marking is drawn up,” Karjalainen describes the critical steps of CorFlux.
Tero Puustinen in an entrepreneur and coach in top-level sports, and he brings business development expertise to the team. Entrepreneurial experience is also what unites the team members.
"For me, the project is like a top athlete who we as a team are pushing towards success. In that sense, there are similarities,” Puustinen describes.
The team's enthusiasm, efficiency and expertise have made it possible for CorFlux to come this far. According to Hedman, finding a common language between medical, physics and business experts has been surprisingly easy.
“I'm used to working with physicists and mathematicians. Discussing blood flow in vessels with an engineer is easy, for example. Business is the furthest away from my expertise, but that’s why we have a multi-professional team,” Hedman states.
Strong expertise in clinical research has also built greater trust in CorFlux’s idea. For example, a collaboration agreement related to the project is on the works with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Support from SPARK Finland, Business Finland and the university
CorFlux is making determined progress towards the market. In spring 2021, the project was included in the SPARK Finland development programme, and the University of Eastern Finland granted it Proof of Concept funding (POC) the same year. The POC funding was used to hire economist Eetu Hyöky, who conducted a market, competition and patenting study for CorFlux. Last spring, CorFlux received Research to Business funding from Business Finland.
“I believe that we can make great progress in terms of regulation, prepare for the CE marking application and carry out the clinical testing and validation of the algorithm with the Business Finland project funding. The functionality of the method becomes clearer with actual patient data. Aortic illnesses are insidious in the sense that they don't cause symptoms, so high-risk patients must be identified in time. As someone who does clinical work, I've seen a great need for such a risk assessment tool,” Hedman says.
According to Pasi Karjalainen's roadmap, the project will enter a funding round after the regulation and patenting work or in about 12 months.
“As the product is scalable, the goal is to become a growth company. Founding a start-up usually requires seed funding from investors and a bit of support from society. That’s usually enough for the next year and a half. The faster we get funding, the less time we need to spend unemployed and we avoid the dispersal of the team,” Karjalainen estimates.
Senior Innovation Advisor Irina Lavikainen and Business Cooperation Coordinator Heli Laine from UEF see CorFlux as a model student in many ways: the project has made effective use of the support and funding available for innovations. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services of UEF provide diverse support for commercialising research, such as advice on invention notices, funding opportunities and searching for mentors.
“CorFlux is moving forward like a locomotive. The team has been built well, and you need a great team to convince the funders,” Lavikainen says.
Y Science provides a quality label
Next, the CorFlux team will step into the limelight at the final of the Y Science 2022 pitching competition at the Helsinki Fair Centre on 17 November.
Y Science is an official side-event of the renowned technology and growth company event Slush. The pitching competition will feature the best researched-based potential companies in the health sector.
"We are in the top four in the Y Science competition, which is a stamp of quality in the eyes of the funders,” Karjalainen points out.
Further information about CorFlux
Marja Hedman, Professor, CorFlux project leader, University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 44 717 9341
You can find more information about the project on the CorFlux website.
Further information about the innovation activities of the University of Eastern Finland
Heli Laine, Business Cooperation Coordinator, University of Eastern Finland, email@example.com, tel. +358 50 533 8891
Irina Lavikainen, Senior Innovation Advisor, University of Eastern Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 400 1539
You can find more information about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services of UEF online.
Further information about the SPARK development programme and the innovation environment of the HUMEA Laboratory
Pasi Karjalainen, Professor, Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, email@example.com, tel. +358 40 550 4347
Further information about the HUMEA Laboratory.