Charles Walther - portrait

BiBB Instruments - drilling deeper into the body

The company BiBB Instruments has its origins in clinical research at Lunds Lasarett. Doctor and founder Charles Walther has diagnosed many cancer patients. His experiences as a practising doctor and his desire to help even more patients led him to come up with an invention which will facilitate the diagnosis of cancer tumours in the stomach, intestine and lungs with the aid of a medical drill. The drilling instrument drills deeper and can take more precise samples than traditional endoscopic biopsies.

Clinical studies take time and require networks 

Conducting clinical studies and proving that the invention works on humans with a specific condition was a major developmental task. The studies were carried out at hospitals with actual patients. “We got an enormous amount of support from Lunds Lasarett and the medical staff who provide care on a daily basis. Doctor colleagues, clinic managers and patients offered their support when we conducted our studies,” says Charles Walther. BiBB Instruments’ clinical study has now been published in the global database PubMed, where all medical science ends up after comprehensive review. “Before the studies and publication, we had of course submitted a patent application for our invention, so as not to affect the novelty value,” adds Charles.

How does the company manage its intangible assets? 

Building and testing medical technology is an time-consuming and expensive process, and BiBB Instruments has concentrated on protecting the instruments it has developed with a patent. Trademark protection has also been registered for product names, such as the Endodrill drill. 

The company is targeting the major markets. Charles initially sought help from PRV regarding national patent applications and then moved on to PCT and European applications for seven major markets around the world. One of the company’s patents has just been approved in China. 

To help them manage their intellectual property rights, the company has an agent with contacts in all major markets around the world. 

Contact with PRV 

“PRV gave us good service, a helpful dialogue and good feedback concerning the technical solution. My contact with PRV began as soon as I entered and won the competition in the Swedish TV programme Uppfinnarna,” says Charles. “In relation to international authorities, the investigations are carried out quickly to a very high level of quality and in accordance with predictable schedules. The patent engineers I have spoken to have been widely read and knowledgeable. The actual preparatory work for a patent application takes a lot of work of course, but the process carried out by PRV has been both clear and quick,” believes Charles. 

Licensing and retailers 

The company BiBB Instruments is looking to attract licensees and retailers from amongst the major international medical technology companies. The company’s intellectual property rights strategy is therefore structured with this in mind. “For us, it was a question of striking a balance between costs, building a prototype or patenting. Our strategy for intellectual property rights was created in order to be viable and interesting for the major global medical technology companies,” explains Charles. 

Where is the company today and where will it be in five years’ time? 

BiBB Instruments’ origins lie in a thesis where Charles Walther is the majority owner in the company and Lund University’s holding company is a co-owner. The development of Endodrill into a medical technology product took place rapidly, and the company is now on the threshold of commercialisation and is working to further develop the drill into a sterilised disposable product. The aim is to grow at a steady and stable rate. “In five years’ time, BiBB Instruments will be an internationally established development company within cancer diagnostics employing doctors, technicians, patent engineers and business advisers,” explains Charles.

Experiences of the Swedish innovation support system 

Charles expresses his gratitude to VINNOVA and Lund University, who have contributed both research funding and expertise. LU Innovation saw the potential in the technical solution at an early stage and helped him to evaluate the patentability of the invention. “I had to explain to the engineers at LU Innovation how my invention differed from other inventions,” says Charles. 

The Familjen Kamprads foundation and Sten K Johnson’s foundations have also been important contributors to the development. “They saw and appreciated the enthusiasm of the project team,” says Charles. 

Even Almi and Region Skåne’s innovation system has supported the company at various stages of the process. 

“When we prepare the applications, it helps enormously that I am used to writing applications for research grants. You have to present the idea in a way which makes the benefits clear in an objective and specific manner,” reflects Charles. 

Charles Walther’s best tips for companies starting their research! 

Focus on one of your ideas and take it as far as it will go. Collect your other ideas together for the future. This is not an easy task, but absolutely necessary when you are a creative person and have lots of ideas. Let the market decide which of your ideas you should focus on.

The interview was made in 2016.

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