John Paul van Heel - Foto © Rabobank
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Start-up Angiogenesis Analytics, a spin-off of the Eindhoven University of Technology that currently works from the JADS Venture Campus in Den Bosch, is developing software that allows early detection of prostate cancer. It is a long term project: “Within four years it should be on the market”, says CEO and founder Mark Bloemendaal. “Precisely because it takes so long for the product to generate its own revenue, extra money is needed. The confidence of a bank then helps enormously when searching for investors.”

For ten years, TU Eindhoven has been researching ways to use ultrasound software to detect prostate cancer. In 2018, the university decided to translate the results into a spin-off. Last summer, Bloemendaal became involved in the medical software company. “I have been hired as director to clinically validate and market the software that has been developed. As an engineer, I have a lot of experience in this field. For example, I have been involved in the development of NightWatch, a clinically proven system that detects epileptic seizures.”

Mark Bloemendaal, Angiogenesis Analytics

To get this product, the “PCaVision“, actually on the market, Bloemendaal wrote a business plan and started looking for investors. During his search he also came into contact with the Rabobank Innovation Fund. “Thanks to the university network, I met with John Paul van Heel. There was an immediate click between us. I submitted my plan and later provided a pitch for a committee. It was great that they saw the added value of our product. Then things went fast. The money we needed was on our bank account within a few days.”

The fact that it takes another four years to get a product like PCaVision from an idea to a market product is not unusual in the medical world. The software is now being further developed into a usable solution in healthcare practice. This is followed by extensive clinical validation and certification. Bloemendaal is not afraid of the long term but he realizes that money is needed to bridge the period until there is real turnover. “Thanks to Rabobank’s commitment, I was able to convince other investors. We are now in the negotiation phase with a couple of big ones. This allows us to take the final steps, so that we can quickly build a product with which urologists can really get to work”.

Focus on start-ups

John Paul van Heel listens to Bloemendaal’s story with a smile. As account manager SME he has specialized in innovative companies in the medical industry. Van Heel sees it as a positive and necessary development that the bank has paid more attention to start-ups and scale-ups in recent years. “And it makes sense as well. The Netherlands is a knowledge economy and the Brainport region, in particular, excels in this respect. As a bank, we think it’s important to contribute to that successful ecosystem. That’s why Rabobank recently set up a start-up and scale-up team. Our Innovation Loan, which Bloemendaal and his team have now been able to make use of, also contributes to this”.

Van Heel is convinced that start-ups and scale-ups can be of great value for this region, but also for the rest of the Netherlands and beyond. “Look at ASML, which started in the 1980s as a spin-off of Philips and is now the world leader in the field of chip machines. In addition, it is one of the largest employers in this region. And we haven’t even mentioned the ecosystem of suppliers that benefit from this.”

According to Van Heel, the Innovation Loan fits in precisely with that interaction. The bank goes further than just granting a loan, he says. “As a bank, we also have our knowledge and network to share. We often take on the role of sparring partner. We don’t actually sit in the entrepreneur’s chair, but try to advise.”

Companies of tomorrow

In addition, the bank has a network of entrepreneurs and actively cooperates with all the organizations that have something to offer to innovative companies in the region, such as Brainport Development and Brabant Development Agency (BOM). Van Heel: “In collaboration with them, we are creating a platform where, in addition to financial support, we also offer legal support, for example. We are investing in a clear counter for start-ups, in order to support the companies of tomorrow today.” Van Heel also sees the effects of this strategy, also now, during the corona crisis. “It is precisely now that you see the added value of innovative start-ups that come up with great health solutions at lightning speed. That gives energy to all of us. It’s great to see what’s happening here in the region.”

[learn_more caption=”Innovation Loan”] The Innovation Loan is for entrepreneurs with a good and innovative idea. The bank lends 25,000 to 150,000 euros to a company in its idea, plan, or startup phase. The first two years are redemption free. The loan can be applied for by both existing and new customers of the bank. The Innovation Loan is intended for companies that focus on the circular economy, food, renewables, or vitality. A written assessment is followed by a pitch, after which it is decided whether an entrepreneur is entitled to the loan or not. For more information and for applications, click here.[/learn_more]