Ginolis is changing diagnostics for good: “Currently no one else can do the same”
The outskirts of Oulu have been a good ground for electronics production for decades, with Elektrobit, Polar and others, some of which were built upon subcontracting electronics manufacture for Nokia mobile phones, others on products of their own. But since Nokia decided to leave the cellular phone market as a brand, a shift of perspective is taking place. One of the companies utilising the talent and the networks in the region is Ginolis Oy.
“We started as a manufacturing company for medical automation devices in 2010, and that’s still the major part of our income still comes from that”, says Teijo Fabritius, CEO of Ginolis. But, as he’s quick to point out, the future lies somewhere else. Ginolis bought a Swedish diagnostics company in 2014, and since then many things have changed. He leads me through their product line and shows me transparent plastic discs etched with micro-structured shapes. “As far as I know, no one else can currently offer what we do.”
Global is the word
Founded in 2010 as a medical device automatisation and manufacturing company and merged in 2014 with a Swedish diagnostics company, current form of Ginolis combines both of these assets – this is what Fabritius is so enthused about. “There are companies in the medical tech field that can offer you diagnostics devices and tools, and there are other companies that take care of the manufacturing and automatisation. But we can do both. And that’s something I’ve yet to see done anywhere else.”
All about products of their own, a good example of Ginolis’s competence is a small chip-like device that electronically tests the patient for melanoma. Filled with microscopic needles, it weighs only grams and is the size of my finger nail. Once inserted, it measures the electricity within the tissue, which is then compared to the tissue in the dubious mole in the patient. The device is being sold in Australia, and it’s pending validation in the United States. In Europe, validation has been granted, and sales are already starting. The device, called Nevisense, is sold by a Swedish company called Scibase, and Fabritius has big expectations.
Medical tech is booming
Although the company still relies much on its automatisation business, Fabritius is confident of the market growth on the disposable diagnostics field. He thinks that self-diagnostics will soon be as common as insulin shots for the diabetes – imagine the savings if you did not have to go to your healthcare center for a blood, tissue, or urine sample. The discs mentioned earlier are a good example: one disc can have several diagnostics sticks that are filled with electronic trails for patented substances, and once the sample is diagnosed, the output is fed automatically to the computer system. “We’re currently thinking about reducing the gap between taking a sample and analysing it”, he says. Think about intelligent micro needles – no more dropping blood on a glass plate.
Although Fabritius says the ICT history in the region has served them well, he wouldn’t mind seeing engineering education combined with healthcare and life science. “We’re in need of testing environments and user experiences, and those are hard to come by.” Taking a device into everyday use before it’s completely finished for test purposes can hinder medical work, so there are currently collaborating with the healthcare department of the University of Applied Sciences. With offices also in San Diego and Uppsala (where the company is building a production line for the melanoma analysing chip), and plans to recruit 20 more people by the end of the year, making a total headcount of 80, business definitely seems to be on the right track. “We’re going to keep our headquarters and also the main production platform in Oulu. Currently, we can’t see any incentive in moving the Oulu-based production elsewhere.”