He makes you listen to your heart with AI
It's been a year since he received the Arvid Carlsson Award for the heart failure monitoring tools with his company, Acorai. Since then, Acorai has really gained momentum. On a call between meetings in Los Angeles, we caught up with Filip Peters to ask about his entrepreneurial journey and what it takes to grow a company on the global life science arena.
Not long after receiving the Arvid Carlsson Award, Acorai, a Healthtech Nordic company, stood once again on stage as a winner at the ICI startup competition in Tel Aviv. Browsing their LinkedIn profile reveals that they are part of accelerator programs, participate in exhibitions, investor meetings and conferences in Berlin, Barcelona and Las Vegas, to mention just a few.
“I spend a lot of time travelling, sometimes it feels like too much, but building relationships and showcasing the product really works best when done face-to-face,” says Filip Peters, CEO and founder of Acorai.
Obviously, it pays off with over 40 million SEK in capital raised to date.
Acorai is developing a first-of-its-kind, non-invasive heart failure monitoring solution with intracardiac pressure monitoring at its core. The objective is to enable earlier and more sensitive management of heart failure patients, helping reduce readmissions, mortality rates and improve survival rates.
”Strategically, we have completed our first clinical study with Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Lund University Hospital showing that the cardiac pressures can be estimated with high accuracy. We have also initiated a global clinical study with 1200 people in 12 hospitals across six different countries.”
That means the company has embarked on the next vital stage towards regulatory approval, aiming to be market ready in 2025.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted a Breakthrough Device Designation for their device. A noteworthy achievement that validates the large unmet need and gives priority when filing for approval and the possibility to have a frequent dialogue.
What’s your biggest challenge within the near future?
“Raising capital is always a challenge and commercialization can be tricky. The end user and the payer are not always the same and here in the US, each hospital is different.”
What’s the response you get from the market?
“Fantastic! Whether we meet with cardiologists from Europe, USA or Asia, everyone appreciates the value of a non-invasive heart failure monitoring tool.
"Within our team, we jokingly say that talking to cardiologists is the best form of therapy for us; the excitement amongst the clinical community that we see for our device brings immediate confidence."
Acorai, established in 2019, managed to navigate the pandemic’s impact quite effectively. During that period, they primarily focused on product development and had the flexibility to establish a virtual organization. Today, there are 13 employees and 10 part-time consultants attached to the company, all of whom are spread across Europe, North America, and Asia.
How do you keep a distributed organization like that together?
“We meet in person once per quarter, and for the rest of the time, we have many virtual meetings. Our advantage is that we started working this way because of the pandemic and now continue to recruit those who want to work in this manner. It works well, but of course, it may change if our numbers grow significantly.”
What’s significant for your company culture?
“We all have a startup mindset and a unified focus that drives us forward, tackling one major project at a time. We’ve moved from product development to clinical trials, where we currently stand. The next phase will be the regulatory process.”
You need grit and determination, willingness to take risks and a bit of luck when building a company from scratch according to Filip. Developing a med tech product within the regulatory frameworks is also a complex undertaking and more guidance would have been beneficial. It may discourage some to enter the industry because the regulatory aspect is so complex.
“I don’t know how we made it this far! Of course, we listen to experts and it’s crucial to document early on. But it’s a delicate balance. Sometimes, it’s essential for the idea not to wither away but to make progress, and then you need to step back a bit and ensure it’s done right from the start.”
What has the Arvid Carlsson Award meant to you?
“A stamp of approval that we’re addressing something important. And, not the least, exposure. The more people who know about us, the better.”
At Park Annual in Gothenburg on 9 November, Filip will hand over the trophy to this year’s winner.
There’s still time to influence who gets chosen! Don’t miss the opportunity to submit a nomination before 6 October.
The name Acorai is a combination of three words; Acoustics, Core and AI - meaning Listen to your heart with AI.
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