Calciscon develops and markets the first and only diagnostic blood test to measure the likelihood of calcification in the blood. Kidney patients often have heightened levels of calcification. The Calciscon test offers new diagnostic, treatment and prognosis options.
We immediately felt very welcome at the Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne
Dr. Andreas Pasch, CEO of Calciscon.
Interview with: Dr. Andreas Pasch, CEO of Calciscon
Dr. Pasch, first you were at the Inselspital hospital in Bern and now you are here with us. How did you find out about the lab at the Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIP BB)?
It took a little bit of research until I found out about the innovation park online. After submitting an inquiry to SIP BB, everything went very smoothly and easily. Some of our needs and concerns were taken care of even before we signed the contract, and in February 2017 we moved into a lab specially tailored to us. The Switzerland Innovation Park is the first place we’ve felt truly welcome.
At SIP BB, you share a floor with an electrical lab, a chemical lab and a cleanroom where the Bern University of Applied Sciences has rented space. This is an exciting combination. Do you have any contact with each other?
We are all too absorbed in our work for that. But this focused and concentrated work gives the floor a productive and intensive atmosphere. It is the perfect place to develop a company and its products in peace.
You developed a blood test that can measure calcification in the blood. What led you to do this?
Kidney patients undergoing treatment suffer from a major unsolved problem. As a senior physician for kidney patients, I have treated and cared for a large number of patients suffering from calcification. With kidney patients, the problem is that the calcium phosphate they take in is often stored not in their bones, but rather in their arteries, which leads to calcification. During a stay in Aachen, I developed a blood test that makes it possible to determine a patient’s propensity for calcification. This represents enormous progress, as it is now possible to make a more precise diagnosis, develop personalized treatment and establish a more specific prognosis.
That sounds exciting.
I would say that it was a combination of intuition, feeling and scientific analysis that enabled me to carry out this very long and very intensive research. In principle, however, the blood test is actually very simple; the devil is always in the details.
You were a senior physician treating kidney patients when you decided to found a startup in 2013. Why did you take this risk when you were already at the peak of your career?
You only take a step like this if it is really important to you and you are 100% convinced of it. I was never all that concerned about my career – I was more interested in having creative flexibility. A great title and a nice-sounding position that never really allow me to get ahead do absolutely nothing for me.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to have the support of your family, because the beginning is always hard and founding a startup is a rendezvous with a very special and new reality.
In this respect, your unusual career path certainly helped you, didn’t it? You originally completed a bank apprenticeship and you also studied law and medicine.
(Laughs) That was all a long time ago. But, of course, there is always something useful from my professional past in my head, as I am responsible for research, product development and for the business side as well. The question is always: “What do you want from life?” For me, it has to be exciting and stimulating!
What does the future look like for Calciscon?
We are on track in terms of research and our first product is on the market. We have received test inquiries and blood samples from around the world. So we are constantly coming closer to our goal of having the test recognized by health insurers and establishing it as a routine test globally. Of course, Calciscon will continue to research and develop new products because if you’re not innovating, you’re standing still!