Te?ted Ltd - A new solution to diagnose tick-borne diseases

Te?ted Oy is a university spinoff company from my research group. The idea of adding translation value for research being conducted in my research group has always been a priority. Yes, basic research is important and is continuously being pursued in my group, but when the value of the research can benefit the quality of life for a person, then the group feels that we would do a disservice if not to try to pursue exploitation of this scientific research. This path is easy to follow when the focus on the patients’ needs are kept in our minds. In fact, the passion for the research increases when collaborating with patient advocacy groups. Their needs, difficulties, experiences, and dedication for theirs and other’s quality of lives are factors that influence the direction of the research. 

Previous research projects with the European Commission and international collaborations led to the need for better diagnostics for Lyme disease. Indeed, our current research findings suggest that there are ways that we can definitively improve Lyme Disease diagnostics and expand this knowledge to tick-borne diseases. In truth, development of better diagnostics for tick-borne diseases in my group started out as a M.Sc. thesis project for a nanoscience student. We had to stop this M.Sc. thesis topic when we ascertained the value in the intellectual property coming from the project. 

At this stage of the project we applied for the TEKES TUTL type of project with a very specific aim to evaluate the commercialization possibility of our business idea, “TICK-TAG: Evaluation of the next Generation Point-of-Care Diagnostic for Tick-borne Pathogens”. For us to fulfill the requirements to apply we had to go through University of Jyväskylä Research and Innovation Research Service’s TUTL clinic and set up a steering committee. In addition, we went to Jykes (Jyväskylä Regional Development Company) even before knowing the results of the TUTL project. Jyvkes accepted us a project as well as provided a “Business Godfather” for our business development and the start of our steering committee. At the same time Jykes suggested that we try to qualify as a Jyväskylän Yritystehdas’ (Jyväskylä Research and Innovation Factory) team. Accordingly, we pitched our business idea, TICK-TAG, and was accepted as their A team. 

From this point onwards, everything began to fall into place. We were selected for the TUTL project that started on the first of July 2015 and ended 30 Sept 2016. We were given two business coaches from Jyväskylän Yritystehdas, qualified for the SparkUP business accelerator at Turku Science Park and given another business coach, and won or began semi-finalists while pitching at various business idea events, such as Best of Biotech, Innovation for Health, Hello Tomorrow, Neste Rally, Discovery Tuesday, Falling Walls, etc. The main reason we were well on our way we believed was because we could describe our business / research idea with regards to the NABC business model; need, approach, benefit, and competition. Our group kept this NABC model and the impact on patients in everything that we did for the TUTL project. Again, we got inspiration from the patients.

With a successful TEKES project ending in Sept 2016, we had to decide what would our next steps be; what do we do with this business idea since the commercial evaluation was fantastic. Three original people from the TEKES TUTL project became founders of Te?ted Oy. Te?ted Oy is a medical device manufacturing company situated at Mattilanniemi 6-8 (old Nokia facilities). This company is innovating the way complex diseases are diagnosed. With our first product, Tickplex to be launched in February 2017, we hope to revolutionize the way clinicians diagnose tick-borne diseases. Patient advocacy groups have testified that it takes 11 different visits, 11 different doctors, 7000 €, and years to get a proper diagnosis; to get that one important answer. With Tickplex, the patient needs one visit to get that one important answer. Tickplex tests for multiple microbes, multiple disease stages, and multiple patients simultaneously at a 90% cost reduction for the patients. With Tickplex, the clinician will be able to adopt a personalized treatment protocol for the patients. The patients will be able to recovery quicker. We truly are listening to the patients. We believe if the patient can get tested, they can be treated. Te?ted Oy has a mission to be the industry standard for tick-borne disease diagnosis by 2021. With transparency, listening, and keeping the patients’ needs first, or mission will be realized. 

If I had to provide advice regarding this experience, I would state “Just do it and enjoy the ride while doing it”. Opportunities like this rarely pop up. 

Leona Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer of Te?ted Oy