She is about to turn 23 but she has already become one of our thunder women at The Collider. Anna Nicolau joined the program as a scientist with no entrepreneurial experience but an inexhaustible drive to make things happen. Today, she is the proud co-founder of one of our healthcare startups, Icaria Medical (formerly Sensocor).
With the aim to bring to focus the people involved in The Collider, this week we’ve asked Anna about her experience throughout the program and future ambitions.
Meet The Colliders!
How did you hear about The Collider and what were your expectations before starting the program?
This last year I was studying a Biomedical Engineering Master’s and I received an email with a brief description of an opportunity to become part of a startup in the medical devices field. It only took a couple minutes for me to reply and ask for more information. I then entered the selection process and ended up being selected as the scientist for one of the startups.
I have always had the ambition of starting up a project in the MedTech sector but these type of businesses require a big amount of funding and a solid team of experts to carry them out. The Collider sounded like the perfect scenario that gathers the necessary ingredients for bringing technologies to the market. I had great expectations on the high profile teams that were built, the deep technology from research centres that was going to be transferred and the program itself with the initial funding and many activities that would help me become the entrepreneur I wanted to be.
Why are there so little scientists becoming entrepreneurs?
Jumping from the scientific environment to the business world is not a common situation. On one hand, that is due to the lack of experience and know-how on entrepreneurship which makes scientists reluctant to get out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, I think there is a miscommunication between research and the market. Usually, the trigger of research is the longing of discovering new technologies while leaving its possible application to one side.
I believe we are going to a more market-focused research in where there might be a business opportunity validation at the start of each investigation. Scientific journals will accept most innovations but the market will only embrace the useful ones.
Which have been your greatest milestones throughout the program?
In our case, one of the most important challenges we had to overcome was defining the right application for the technology. At first, the business was focused on measuring many vital signs offering a general solution for cardiovascular monitoring. However, after validating this idea with more than twenty physicians and many experts in the healthcare industry, we realised that the competitive advantage was more powerful on measuring Blood Pressure in a continuous and non-invasive way. So after the validation period, we decided to put all our resources to follow this path.
And of course, founding Icaria Medical was an important milestone achieved as a result of the program.
Would you repeat the experience? Why?
I would for sure repeat the experience. The first reason why is that we managed to sort out all the obstacles and create the company with a competent team and a solid business plan, so we achieved the main objective. Also, the program was a great opportunity to develop new skills in both the scientific and business fields and I got the chance to meet and work with a lot of interesting people. I really think that it has been a great experience that accelerated my pathway to entrepreneurship.
Finally, what future do you oversee for Icaria Medical in the next few years?
Icaria Medical is offering a new solution for blood pressure monitoring in the hospital environment, so obviously, the future is to be the new standard in all hospitals.
For the moment, we have been working with UPC (the inventors of the technology) to develop an R&D plan to follow the next few years to bring the product from a laboratory prototype to a marketable product. Accordingly, we will work to obtain the medical device’s certification, for which we are designing several clinical studies together with big hospitals’ physicians that want to be part of this project. Certainly, the first steps of Icaria Medical are to obtain funding and keep working on developing the product.