Antibiotics resistance is one of the biggest threats we are facing today. Soon antibiotics will stop working and without them modern medicine. Operations will be too risky to perform. People with weak immune systems such as cancer patients and those infected with HIV will be defenseless. Even a visit to the dentist or small scratch would be deadly without antibiotics. “Right now, estimations are really terrifying – according to the UK government in just 32 years, 10 million people will die annually because of bacterial infections. What is more terrifying, without antibiotics there is no medicine”, highlights Olga Grudniak. Olga Grudniak is Founder and CEO of Biolumo. It was incorporated in 2016 and is based in Gdynia, Poland.
Biolumo wants to slow down antibiotics resistance to prolong the era of antibiotics and give scientists more time to develop new ways to treat bacterial infections. It can only be done by minimizing consumption of broad-spectrum antibiotics and focusing on prescribing targeted antibiotics. Henceforth, Biolumo’s mission is anchored to ‘What if there was a Way to Check Every Single Patient with Antibiogram’. To do that, Biolumo is building a fast and affordable solution for diagnosis of antibiotic resistance.
Biolumo wants to slow down antibiotics resistance to prolong the era of antibiotics and give scientists more time to develop new ways to treat bacterial infections.
Olga receiving the Polish healthcare leadership award
On the Move
Olga describes a series of career transitions over the past 6 years that have brought her today to Biolumo. Two years in preparing for being a cardiovascular surgeon, Olga in high school signed for a team competition made by MIT called iGEM with the objective to promote synthetic biology. Along with Marcin Pitek, de facto initiator of the project, she and the team started working on the project aimed to create a new protein which could be used for treating infections with multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The big part of the competition was to raise fund from sponsors to travel to the US. That’s when she met Wojciech Giżowski– currently COO & CTO and Jakub Wysocki – CMO of Biolumo who taught her about fundraising and commercialization. She gave up the competition and obtained a VC grant for development of new generation drug for MRSA. She consequently became a biotechnologist working to develop a new generation drug. After two years, Olga co-founded Biolumo her place of duty being a project manager and later became the CEO of Biolumo. This time her idea of being biotechnology specialist blossomed and she decided to educate herself about business and economy.
For her, a leader should be versatile, growth-oriented and most importantly acknowledge the need to learn. “I am still working hard to understand some parts like coding, electronics and the technical part of our device”, cheers Olga. Though everyone advocates that leaders need to be extroverts, Olga makes a point suggesting introverts can also learn and in fact be better than most extroverts. “A big advantage of being the introvert is that we have the ability to back off and just observe – no talking just listening. That comes in handy when you have to solve some complicated situation or help your business partner/co-worker with their problems. Just being a rubber duck for your team”, explains Olga.
She manages her time by planning and prioritizing, taking advantage of all breaks between classes and uses the time spent on trains or airplanes to prepare documents or strategies. Olga unwinds by playing video games and engages in yoga to relax. Equestrian sport is her go to activity as it helps to recharge herself.
“A big advantage of being the introvert is that we have the ability to back off and just observe – no talking just listening. That comes in handy when you have to solve some complicated situation or help your business partner/co-worker with their problems. Just being a rubber duck for your team”
The core purpose of Biolumo
Currently, a diagnostic test takes at least 2 days to be done directly in the clinic, and the results and prescription with a targeted antibiotic are received on the same day. There is a need for a quick antibiotic resistance test for everyone because first-contact doctors are responsible for 74% of prescriptions for antibiotics. Biolumo has developed a testing apparatus that aids doctors in the precise selection of an antibiotic for infection treatment within 6 hours, significantly decreasing the testing time and minimizing costs. A laboratory is not required and tests can be carried out by personnel without medical training. This will resolve the problem of insufficient funding for patient testing which means fewer antibiotic therapies, and with that, Biolumo aims to slow down antibiotic resistance. “My aspiration is to change the way bacterial infections are diagnosed by building a global diagnostic company”, asserts Olga.
Cruising through Challenges
Business is all about the experience, Olga states, it was very hard to establish oneself as trustworthy and experienced. “Leading a healthcare start-up as a young scientist was the biggest challenge both for me and Biolumo itself. We came across investors that ignored my existence during meetings instead asked Wojciech and Jakub who among them is the CEO or if they do not mind that a woman is a CEO”, says Olga. Olga continued explaining how they were underestimated, “I came across a few university professors that would not talk to us because we have no degree yet. Investors are always asking who the Professor behind the idea is and there is none – Marcin, the 21 years old scientist and our CSO, invented the product at the age of 18”. Nevertheless, the company has now successfully established some valuable trust points like partnerships with big players on the market.
Here comes The Change!
The need for a solution and the change Biolumo can bring to healthcare has been reinforced when recently Biolumo was named as the Healthcare Leaders 2018 by the 25 Most Influential Polish Healthcare key Opinion Leaders.
The company is still in development and Olga is ready for the future. In the following years- the company plans to complete its development, move to clinical validation of their device and secure an investment at the beginning of 2019. Within two years Olga plans to enter the Poland market with Biolumo’s device followed by expansion in Germany, France, and the UK. “Although we are right now in development, we dare to establish our method as a next golden standard in Poland and the rest of the world”, concluded Olga.
“Although we are right now in development, we dare to establish our method as a next golden standard in Poland and the rest of the world”