Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MAGTEST Report Summary

Project ID: 735952

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MAGTEST (MAGTEST: Simple and specific next generation lab-on-a-chip in-vitro molecular diagnostic device)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Bacterial infections of the mammary gland in cows (bovine mastitis) is one of the main problems faced by the dairy industry, negatively affecting milk production and having a serious impact on the economy of dairy companies. Every year, the overall cost of mastitis is estimated to be €30bn worldwide (over €2 billion in EU). The absence of adequate treatment may lead to persistent infections where animals become permanently affected, leading to deaths and asset write-downs.

On a routine basis, dairy farmers use on-site tests to assess the milk quality and to understand if a cow is likely to have mastitis. If one of the used indicators is abnormal, samples are sent to a laboratory in order to identify bacteria, as well as the required treatments. During this time, which can take several days, farmers usually adopt a preventive approach and apply a broad spectrum of antibiotics, thus increasing the risk of antibiotics resistance.

Magnomics’ solution consists in an easy to use, hand-held “lab on a chip” device that detects bacterial DNA, in which all necessary laboratory steps are seamless to the user. This new diagnostic tool allows the screening of samples for relevant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in a single shot, within a few hours, ensuring a prompt diagnosis and treatment decision. The main objective of MAGTEST - Phase 1 is determining the economic, technical, operational and legal feasibility of the innovative MAGTEST business concept and generating a strategic business plan to make it a reality.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project’s kick-off was established by the signature of the Grant Agreement. Parallel to this procedure, Magnomics was contacted by its Key Account Manager (KAM), from the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), regarding the coaching procedure. After assessing the company’s needs, the KAM concluded that there was no coach with relevant expertize profile in the EEN database. Therefore, Magnomics suggested a coach and the KAM supported the process of bringing this professional expert into the coach database.

On September 2016 Magnomics received the visit of the selected coach in its facilities and a global meeting took place, involving all the team. After a presentation of the company, its goals and technological status, a wide range of subjects were discussed, from both the strategic and the operational points of view. These subjects were oriented by the CE-IVD marking needs, requested by the market and potential investors. A global strategy was defined to overcome innovation and regulatory hurdles, supported by a validation and implementation plan.

The involvement of all the company’s team and the expertize of the coach allowed for a better alignment of science and business, identifying the main risks in the development of the technology and the adequate strategies to minimize them.

This framework allowed for a better development of the MAGTEST project and for a smoother achievement of its goals. MAGTEST was internally structured in five tasks, the last one including the main deliverables, the business plan and the feasibility study:

Task number Task name Key deliverable
1.1 Veterinary diagnostics market analysis Market report
1.2 IPR strategy Framework for innovation recording, patent writing and submission / corporate
1.3 Legal viability Freedom to operate and regulatory pathway analysis and roadmap
1.4 Define product/service concept details User and functional requirement specifications document
1.5 Business plan + Feasibility study + continuous report Deliverables themselves

All tasks involved at least one member of Magnomics’ scientific team and at least on member of the management team. Task 1.2 was the most expensive one, since it involved a wider scope and highly specialized expertise from patent officers, international consultants with worldwide know-how. According to the investors, this task also brings a significant added value to the company and its technology, so it had to be rightly addressed. On the other hand, task 1.3 was the smoothest, leveraging some previous work developed by Magnomics that was structured and systematically analyzed under the MAGTEST project.

The project was developed between August 2016 and January 2017, with each task starting near the end of the previous one, in a waterfall model. The first task involved a veterinary diagnostics market analysis, particularly oriented to the confirmation of the ideal markets for first entry. This task was developed by an external consultant, a worldwide expert in animal health with vast experience in business development and with a strong background on veterinary practice and technical services (Tom Overbay, Expedite Animal Health).

The tasks then developed were the intellectual property (IP) strategy and the legal viability, both aligned with the results obtained from the previous task. The veterinary diagnostics market analysis points towards the USA as a key market. According to the stakeholders feedback, this market's exploitation depends on the creation of a local company and, therefore, legal local services were required, regarding corporate matters. Regarding IP, perceived by the investors as high value assets, MAGTEST included the assessment of these matters both in the USA and in Europe. Parallel to the IP review, a full freedom-to-operate was obtained for the EU and is still ongoing in the US. These tasks benefited from an existing framework, further enriched and informed during the project, thus allowing the achievement of strong results during the project’s time frame.

The longest task from the MAGTEST project was the product/services concept details definition that accompanied almost all the project’s length. This task was periodically updated as results were obtained on the other tasks. Some of the initial assumptions and previous conclusions were questioned and updated accordingly and new strategy lines were opened.

All the tasks contributed to MAGTEST’s project deliverables, namely to the Feasibility Study and the Business Plan, included in the last task of the project. Both these documents were highly enriched by the coaching activity. This, and the results of the MAGTEST project, introduced clarity and helped align the company’s internal strategy as well as a path to reach the market. Some initial perceptions of the team were challenged and, as a result, some technical procedures were updated, some constraints and contingency plans were identified, new countries were considered for IP submission and, overall, a more effective future exploitation of the company’s product is now possible. With this new alignment, MAGTEST results will also be used for a stronger phase 2 SME Instrument application, by the end of which Magnomics will reach the market in a more robust setting.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Magnomics’ product stands as a next-generation rapid diagnostic tool with a first application on the detection of bovine mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland of the dairy cow, caused by several bacteria. The MAGTEST project has helped create an innovative business plan to boost Magnomics’ competitiveness and sustainability in the DNA veterinary diagnostics market: the focus is to develop a fully integrated, disruptive diagnostics solution with an emphasis in bovine mastitis, which affects milk production.

The deliverables of this project stand as the fundamental basis to support the industrialization of a competitive, cost-effective solution that will be integrated in the supply chain for safe, healthy and high quality food, namely milk. The MAGTEST project will ultimately contribute to a sustainable and more competitive agriculture, since it will allow for a more resource-efficient food production. Finally, by specifically detecting bacteria in an easy and affordable manner, the resulting product will also help to promote the judicious use of antibiotics, addressing the key concern of rising antimicrobial resistances.

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