This week we focus on innovative solutions in healthcare. Lodox Systems is a global leader in producing full body X-ray imaging devices for medical use in trauma and forensic pathology centres.
We chat to Carlos Sousa, a founding member of Lodox Systems, which won the 1st Prize of the GCIP-SA Medical Devices Pitching Den. This all played out at the SA Innovation Summit in Cape Town in September 2018.
Who is Carlos Sousa?
Carlos Sousa is one of the founding members of the Lodox team. Carlos is currently appointed as the Chief Operating Officer for Lodox Systems (Pty) Ltd and responsible for Product Development, Finance, Admin and Operations. Carlos is an Electrical Engineer by background with a Master Degree in Control and Software Engineering and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. Carlos often jokes about being responsible for all the SEXC bits on the Lodox (play on the word sexy, but standing for Software, Electronics, X-rays and Control) the areas that he was instrumental is designing and shaping. Carlos has been involved in product development for most of his career and has been involved with Lodox and medical devices from 1998. Carlos is a multi-skilled individual who is capable of getting involved in multiple areas and adapt to many situations. He hopes that as leader that he is able inspire people to align themselves to his vision of saving lives and make a difference!
What is Lodox Systems?
Lodox Systems (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African company that has developed and produces a unique full body x-ray scanner based on Linear Slot Scanning Radiology (LSSR), which is capable of producing an high quality x-ray image (up to 4.2lp/mm) in just 13 seconds with minimal radiation dose (0.12mGy).
Lodox operates in the two main markets:
- In the Trauma and Emergency fields, Lodox is savings lives by providing trauma doctors with a revolutionary quick high resolution low dose diagnosis of emergency and trauma patients to facilitate diagnosis and treatment in the critical one hour (golden hour) after injury. It also aids in treatment planning and processing patient load in mass casualties.
- In the Forensics field, Lodox provides a high resolution, low dose quick scanning radiological workhorse that is capable of documenting and diagnosing bodies cutting down the autopsy time from hours to mere minutes. In the USA, the Lodox machine is considered to be the golden standard in forensics imaging.
What impact does your product have?
Lodox has introduced two scanners into the market the Xmplar-dr for ER and Trauma centres, and the eXero-dr for forensics centres. Speed, Large Size Images, Ease of use, and standard protocol recipes allow for non-specialized staff to operate the machine to achieve diagnostic quality imaging. The Lodox machine have become the gold standard in forensic imaging in the USA, which forensic centres now need to have to quality as a level 1 accreditation by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME).
Customer loves the speed and ease of use that the Lodox provides and the impact is that autopsies and resuscitation times in ER has dramatically dropped, facilitating increases in productivity and increasing the likelihood of survival of patients in the golden hour.
Has your participation in the SA Innovation Summit – GCIP-SA Medical Devices Pitching Den had any impact in your business?
Yes the impact has been about us clarifying the product positioning, its purpose and whether it still has relevance. Lodox has been relatively successful with it product offering with more than 100 installation worldwide so it was important to position the diversification efforts in terms of commercial aspects of these in the market. The GCIP-SA Programme has been instrumental in refining our pitch presentation for potential funding and refine the message, the purpose, the market opportunity and the go to market strategy on these diversification efforts.
Lodox Systems won 1st Prize in the GCIP-SA Medical Devices Pitching Den, tell us what this means to you?
Winning the 1st prize of the Pitching Den again proved that our product offering has merit and is seen as great opportunity for potential investors.
What made you want to participate in the SA Innovation Summit and the GCIP-SA Pitching Den?
We participated in the GCIP-SA Medical Devices Pitching Den as we were initially selected to do the GCIP-SA mentoring programme. Lodox initially approached the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) to apply for funding through its Technology Development Fund for the diversification efforts that Lodox wants to undertake. TIA then selected Lodox to join the mentorship and the GCIP-SA programme. Carlos and Dries Vermeulen (R&D Specialist) were particularly interested in the Innovation Summit to gauge what other entrepreneurs were doing and to gauge the level of interest from potential investors in the diversification efforts and their interest in funding these ideas.
What challenges were you faced with while building your product?
As a medical devices manufacturer, the main challenge we face is the product certification and regulations. Recently due to the breast implant scandal in the EU, regulation and certification has really gotten quite strict in terms of product safety and compliance testing. Lodox has had to ensure that its product portfolio meets these requirements, its quality management system, its internal processes and its engineering meet these stringent international standards and that the clinical evidence for these has been validated and verified.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or those looking to start their own business?
I have three pieces of advice to any entrepreneur looking to start a business:
- Believe in yourself – Entrepeneur are those crazy people that put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort into an idea in order to commercialise and sell that idea. Never lose that belief, because as soon as you lose that the investors have a way of smelling/sensing this, the market lose faith in you and ultimately impact your commercialisation efforts. Believing in yourself creates an aura of confidence in you as an entrepreneur and even if your idea doesn’t have merit, investor may overlook that solely based on your belief and your confidence level. Investor may even rather invest in you and not your idea.
- Validate, Validate, Validate – this is one piece of advice that resonated from the GCIP-SA programme, is to validate everything. Spending time on validating your idea, its purpose, the market, etc, may bring your insights that you never thought possible. Don’t be despondent if this validation yields result that are not attractive, simply review your idea and pivot to address these insights, many success stories have come out of these insight (eg. Owlet)
- Persevere – Going to market in not for the faint-hearted. Persevere and don’t lose hope, even when doors get shut in your face, continue if you have a strong idea and have done the necessary validation, by persevering, you will find that opportunity to make you succeed!