ATTD Tech Fair Conversations
We’re proud to feature an interview with AMF Medical, a company that has been successfully navigating the entrepreneurial journey.
Prof. Tadej Battelino (ATTD Co-Chair) talks to Pim van Wesel on AMF Medical’s story from university idea through to acquisition by Tandem Diabetes Care, and how partaking in the Tech Fair helped with product improvement and exposure. Get a glimpse into the world of tech and entrepreneurship and be inspired by the possibilities.
Pim van Wesel is the Co-CEO at AMF Medical SA. Pim has over 25 years of experience in the medical device industry. Pim started their career as a Senior Country Director at Medtronic in Belgium. In 2003, Pim became the Vice President of Risk Management for Corporate Banking at ING. In 2011, Pim became the Interim CEO at MindMaze and successfully led the company out of EPFL into early commercialization of its brain-imaging and virtual reality applications with focus on neuro-rehabilitation for stroke victims. From 2012 to 2015, Pim served as the Vice President of Continental Europe at CareFusion. In 2015, Pim joined BD (Becton Dickinson) as the WW Vice President, Infusion Pump Sets Platform and OEM Contract Manufacturing. Pim has successfully led the global platform team for IV pump dedicated disposables, as well as the BU’s OEM sales team for needle-free connectors, components and contract manufacturing.
Pim Van Wesel has an MBA from IMD and a Master’s in Applied Economics with an Accounting major from the University of Antwerp. Pim also has a certification in International Business from Georgetown University. Additionally, they have two certifications from the FAST Track – EPFL Innovation Park in the FAST TRACK Board Academy and the IMD Business School in the Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives (BPSE).
Tadej Battelino completed his medical degree at the University of Ljubljana in 1990. He completed a Masters degree, and later a PhD focusing on glucose metabolism in neonatal endotoxic shock in 1996. He completed his clinical fellowship at Loyola University of Chicago, and his postdoctoral fellowship at INSERM, Paris.
Tadej Battelino is currently Consultant and Head of Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Endocrinology, UMC Ljubljana, Head, Chair of Paediatrics, and Professor of Paediatrics at Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana. He is PI on several research projects in the field of paediatric endocrinology and metabolism and was awarded the Slovene national award for research in 2014, and Gold medal for research at the University of Ljubljana in 2017. Professor Battelino is on the editorial boards for the journals Paediatric Diabetes,Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolismand was Editor for the European Journal of Endocrinologyfrom 2009 to 2015. He has authored or co-authored over 200 manuscripts in international peer-reviewed journals and participated chapters to several books.
Tadej Battelino is a member of numerous professional associations including the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes, for which he served as President for the 35thAnnual Congress. He served on the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) council and is co-organizer of eleven annual meetings of the ATTD (Advanced Technologies and Treatment of Diabetes). Professor Battelino is a regular member of the Slovene Medical Academy and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Transcript of Conversation
Prof. Battelino: Hello, everybody. I’m Tadej Battelino. I’m professor of pediatrics and diabetes. And I’m very happy that I’m able to host today Pim van Wesel, a person that also contributed to the development of technology in diabetes considerably, and what’s more was successful in this.
So, Pim, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and AMF Medical?
Pim van Wesel: Good morning, Professor Battelino. Nice to see you again. Yes, I’m a recovering banker, actually, and I started working in medical technology in 2002. And one of my first jobs was in diabetes. A lot of things happened in between, but eventually I joined a company called AMF Medical two years ago now. And basically I stumbled upon a group of engineers at EPFL, which is the technical university near Lausanne, who had developed some technology, and that had turned it into a really nice product. And I started advising them basically to help make it a business. From my background in diabetes, I had a number of contacts and had some ideas of how we could actually grow this. So that’s how it started. And so it’s been a fantastic journey.
Prof. Battelino: Thank you very much for this and for sharing this with us.
What is unique about the product that you are actually so successfully launching?
Pim van Wesel: Well, I think one of the things that’s unique about it is, first of all, the incredible usability. This fits our philosophy that in order for therapies to be useful, they need to actually be used. And one of the barriers we think, is that the technology gets too complicated. A couple of ways we do this. Number one, we use a pre-filled insulin cartridge, which saves time. We make it very easy to use to place on the skin to wear. What we’re talking about as an insulin pump. The other thing that makes it, I think, pretty unique is that it is for a patch pump, a completely reusable pump that lasts a number of years. So we have, of course, a single use piece to pass the insulin through. But the pump itself, so the electronics, the battery that lasts for multiple years. But the fundamental point is really about usability, making it very easy to use. We don’t think we can make people, of course, forget about diabetes, but hopefully we can make them forget about our pump for a couple of days.
Prof. Battelino: That sounds great. I mean, with my background of 35 years in diabetes, this is exactly what people with diabetes really are looking for. So it really resonates well with what I hear for so many years.
Can you now perhaps tell us how your idea to make it a business with somebody bigger emerged and how did you develop it?
Pim van Wesel: Sure. So I think it started with the idea that and as I said, there’s a couple of times before, we clearly think that people with diabetes need another and a better patch, but we don’t think they need another big sales organization. So pretty soon in my trajectory, we started talking to a number of companies and see if there was an interest to partner with them. The company that actually I’ve been talking to most intensely for the last two years is Tandem. We talked about investment, we talked about collaboration and eventually where it has ended is in an acquisition, which was closed earlier this month in January. We think it’s a great partner. I could personally not think of a better owner of this technology. They can help us develop the pump further and I think very importantly help make it a close loop. Not the official term, of course, but a hybrid loop. Integrating it with the CGM, having an algorithm, I think that’s part of the trajectory they can help us with and we’re very excited about the commercialization possibilities because they have, of course, a great organization to actually bring this to people that could use it.
Prof. Battelino: So this sounds like a win-win combination in between the AMF and Tandem Diabetes Care that you just described.
On this path, you also participated in the ATTD Tech Fair, where you brought your company there. And as you know, ATTD Tech Fair is very close to the ATTD idea and mission.
Would you like to describe how you brought the company to this ATTD tech fair and how it went?
Pim van Wesel: Sure. So I was a participant ATTD for a number of years in my past, and learning about the Tech Fair, it seemed just like a great opportunity for a startup, which of course has limited means, to get some visibility: to be to be visible, not just to, of course, the participants at the fair, but also to industry partners. So we applied and we were lucky to be granted a grant to go for an amount that, you know, as a as a startup, which is was cash strapped and, you know, to be there. And then we applied the second year and we came again and it gave us an opportunity to showcase a little bit the product that we have, to get input from physicians, and from other participants on what would work, and of course, make industry contacts. I will tell you that at the last attd where we participated in Barcelona, one of the very important meetings in our trajectory with Tandem took place. We met with the technology senior people and we went with the… they have a whole group around how it works for users and we met with them as well. So that was very, very helpful. But overall it’s been always great just to meet people there and I think the tech fair makes it just very accessible for startups that of course are still small and have limited budgets.
So I think it’s a great initiative. And I’ve always been very appreciative that we could do that. So thank you again for that.
Prof. Battelino: No. Thank you for coming. Because the only the only happiness that such an initiative can bring is that somebody is successful.
And the ATTD, Professor Moshe Phillip and myself are so happy, actually, that the AMF, under your guidance, made it through the ATTD Tech Fair all the way to a partnership and finally acquisition by Tandem Diabetes Care. And hopefully this will bring benefit to people with diabetes, which is the real, you know, last goal or the most important goal of the ATTD initiative.
And Pim, thank you very much to be part of this, from your very important perspective, which is making an idea and the product finally a business, because this is the only way people with diabetes can reach and benefit from it. And thank you very much again for joining me here and sharing your story of success of these two companies, the AMF, that you brought to the final stage, together with Tandem Diabetes Care.
Thank you very much Pim.
Pim van Wesel: Thank you, Professor Battelino. It was a pleasure. It was teamwork. It was great. And I look forward to seeing you in Berlin.
Prof. Battelino: Looking forward, me too. See you all in Berlin. Thank you.