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“Investment of 4,400,000 euros for Hippo Dx innovative device for allergy testing in hospitals”

Earlier, Hippo Dx announced that it had developed an innovative device that can perform an allergy test faster, cheaper and more accurately. This device has passed the mandatory medical certification and thus can now be sold to and effectively used by hospitals. Much needed, as predictions show that half of Europeans will suffer from allergies by 2025. Consequently, the demand from doctors and hospitals for efficient allergy tests is also increasing. At the same time, health care is suffering from staff shortages and high costs. Two aspects to which the Hippo Dx device provides an answer. To now be able to scale up internationally, the company is raising a total of 4.4 million euros from existing investors as well as from LRM and the American Allerfund Ventures. The latter immediately underlines their international ambitions. Closer to home, the enthusiasm is already great. The UZ Leuven, for example, is one of the first hospitals in Belgium to officially start using the device.

Today, one in three of the population worldwide suffers from an allergy. By 2025, as many as half of Europeans will suffer from an allergy, according to projections by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. These include pollen, nutrients, contact allergies and insect bites. The cause? Increasing hygiene in our childhood, high consumption of antibiotics and exposure to substances from alien plants and animals due to climate change. In a sector that is growing year on year, but in which innovation is lagging behind, Hippo Dx developed an innovative device that automates, speeds up and improves the current allergy detection test, which is cumbersome and labor-intensive.

Innovation: faster, cheaper, more accurate

Nose, throat and ear specialist Senne Gorris and his co-founders set out several years ago to find a way to make allergy testing faster, cheaper and more accurate. In 2020, they developed the first prototype of the Skin Prick Automated Test, or SPAT for short. Hippo Dx’s SPAT device works quickly: in 10 seconds it puts as many as 12 tests on the forearm, and after 15 minutes you can have the result automatically read by the device. So the procedure is less labor intensive and the results are much more reliable and consequently easy to reproduce.

Finally green light for use of device in hospitals

The SPAT device has now passed the mandatory medical CE certification so that it can be used in hospitals. In the first phase, Hippo Dx is targeting the home market and neighboring countries. With success, as UZ Leuven, AZ Herentals, Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg and CHU Luik are already customers. In addition, Hippo Dx is currently developing a method that will use artificial intelligence to measure skin reactions to SPAT images and assess the extent to which a patient reacts to a particular allergen. This can then be presented to the physician as a diagnostic suggestion.

To accelerate future plans and further commercial rollout, Hippo Dx is raising a total of 4.4 million euros in additional capital from both their existing investors and the Limburg-based investment company LRM and the American Allerfund Ventures, the first and only venture capital firm focused on social impact in the food allergy space. An ideal combination, according to Senne Goris: “Not only in Europe do we notice a significant increase in the number of allergies. In America, too, we see a great need for everything related to food allergies. The most common food allergies include shellfish, milk, and nuts. In addition, 10% of people have one or more food allergies. The fact that American Allerfund Ventures is co-investing in our story strengthens our belief that we can also open the door to the American market.”

Tom Vanham, general manager of LRM: “Allergies are seriously on the rise. So Hippo Dx is just in time with the commercialization of its innovative SPAT device. With about 100 hospitals in Belgium, over 500 in the Netherlands and over 3,000 in both France and Germany, their market potential at home and in neighboring countries is very large. Moreover, because their device is so innovative, efficient, fast and accurate, they can eventually aim for the whole world, because a similar device with so many advantages does not exist. The story that Senne Gorris and his team are telling here is one that a fellow countryman should be proud of. With the Limburg Investment Company LRM, we are happy to put our shoulders under promising start-ups and scale-ups.”

Lisa Strovink, Allerfund Ventures: “We are excited to work with HippoDx to bring improved diagnostic testing to the respiratory and food allergic community globally.”

Difference from existing prick and blood tests

To date, Hippo Dx is the only device in the market that has been developed in which the taking and analysis of the allergy test is automated. Another advantage of Hippo Dx is that it is the improvement of an existing process, not the implementation of a new technique or testing method, so the reimbursement story remains the same.
Senne Gorris explains: “The problem with allergies is that there are a lot of different symptoms. So to be sure, you have to do an allergy test. Today, there are two ways to test patients for allergies: a skin prick test and a blood test. In the first, the doctor makes small scratches on the patient’s forearm into which various allergen drops are then applied. If, after 15 minutes, a lump, itching and redness appear, it means that the patient is reacting and thus probably allergic to that particular allergen. The skin prick test is relatively inexpensive and can be performed anywhere, but takes time and the quality of the result varies. Blood sampling is faster and thus the most commonly chosen option, but it is less precise, you don’t know the result right away, and it is more expensive. All these disadvantages are eliminated when using our SPAT device. In addition, the SPAT device has additional advantages. The healthcare sector is struggling with low budgets on the one hand and a shortage of personnel on the other. With efficiency gains through automation, the ROI for hospitals is therefore quickly apparent.”

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