His idea will change the future of cross-contamination in hospitals
Company: Chemical Intelligence Limited
What it does: R&D into novel antimicrobial technology for use in high volume disposable consumable medical devices – technology licensing.
Founded: August 2012, London
Founder/s: Rob Gros
Size of team: <10 – CI mostly uses associates, consultant and independent scientists to provide specific skills required for each bespoke project.
Your name and role: Rob Gros, Founder & CEO.
Two reasons why you should be watching Rob Gros:
- This computer programmer-turned-entrepreneur has grown the business from scratch, self-funded the process and found an idea that will change the future of cross-contamination in hospitals and healthcare institutions.
- Rob’s company, which now has an annual turnover of £5m plus, is predicted to revolutionise the use of medical examination gloves in medicine.
What problem are you trying to solve?
In my previous job, I was selling regular medical examination gloves to the NHS and noticed the potential for innovation. It was a product that had lacked innovation in the last 50 years since they were invented and had vast scope for impact.
Medical gloves are one of the highest volume medical devices used in hospitals all over the world, and one of the main causes of cross-contamination, so why had no one thought to introduce a molecule that could help reduce the spread of infection even further? — That’s the problem that my product focusses on solving.
How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?
Approximately 300bn gloves are produced every year, every healthcare institution in the world uses them but there is currently no one known to be innovating in this field. Our gloves including the technology are produced at a comparatively low cost to current hospital gloves, so market share has the potential to be huge!
How do you make money?
Largely the company is funded by royalties from licensing our patented technologies, but after the launch of the product in May 2018, we hope to be applying our technology to additional medical devices so as to increase our revenue streams.
Who’s bankrolling you?
When I started the company in 2012, it was completely self-funded. I found it difficult to find financial help from research, government or financial institutions that would accept my idea, but I was hopeful that the risk was going to pay off, so started the company without financial support. Self-funding was definitely a risk as I had to borrow from family members and there was a time when it looked like the business might fold. By the time external funders offered me assistance, I no longer needed it as the business was thriving! I am always sceptical of financial partners anyway as I like to act impulsively, and I am aware that others may not
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?
Although I didn’t receive external funding at first, I would always recommend to new entrepreneurs starting out, to make sure that your financial and growth strategies are solid. They need to be water-tight and well-researched for any investor to take you seriously.
If you’re embarking on an innovation without external funding, like I did, then you need to make sure that you’re completely confident in your idea (again with a vast amount of research) and know that you have the financial stability to get it off the ground.
What do you believe is the key to growing this business?
The growth in my business will come from consistently adapting the synthesised molecule to other disposable hospital devices.
What metrics do you look at every day?
We generally have hundreds of experiments going on at any one time so invariably I am looking at efficacy results measuring antimicrobial activity. This allows us to understand the performance of our technology under many different circumstances.
What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
The most valuable lesson that I’ve learnt since starting Chemical Intelligence is the value of working with different minds. Whilst I live and breathe business and think logically, Professor James and Dr Wight are absolute scientific geniuses, so it’s a winning combination.
What’s been your biggest mistake so far?
Persevering with substandard suppliers – I wish I had been quicker to react and been more ruthless in making alternative arrangements.
What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?
The medical industry is experiencing major new innovations that are proving to make major changes in healthcare. I think this will continue to be an area that experiences incredible growth since the need for medical innovation is so great, that there are increasingly more grants and funding available to new start-ups. With new resistant bacteria and ‘super-bugs’, the need for innovation in ways to combat the spread of infection is also increasing.
Which London start-up/s are you watching?
In terms of healthcare startups, I would say BfB labs. They produced games that keep an eye on children’s mental well-being, understanding that video games and digital resources are a huge part of children’s lives these days. They are taking that fact that some might see as negative and turning it into a positive situation.