Following the recent appointment of ProtomedLabs as the ViVitro Labs product line sales agent for Europe, Israel and Africa, we interviewed Karim MOUNEIMNE, ProtomedLabs President & CEO, about the company, the market, and plans for the future.
Karim Mouneimné has over 15 years of international experience in the medical device industry in Europe and in the USA. He held several successful commercial development positions with Johnson & Johnson and key R&D positions with Edwards Lifesciences developing vascular surgery prosthesis. His dual international sales and technical experience provides an edge in leading PROTOMEDLABS and in negotiating positions with strategic partners. Karim holds a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering, USA.
Tell us why you created ProtomedLabs?
ProtomedLabs is an independent European based medical device laboratory which provides engineering solutions for both valve and stent testing under one roof. Vincent Garitey, Frédéric Mouret and I were able to gather industrial, academic, and clinical experience in one team to help our customers meet the challenges of bringing devices to market in the US and in EU. Our mission has remained unchanged ever since we have created ProtomedLabs and our partnership with ViVitro Labs Inc fits perfectly with our vision and growth strategy.
What is unique about the Europe, Israel and Africa device testing market compared to North America?
Diversity is the most unique and challenging aspect of this market. We are dealing with many languages, many cultural differences which require flexibility and adaptation. The way decisions are made are very different than in North America which impacts how projects are managed and inevitably how business is conducted. Building relationship with our customers is an important aspect of doing business in this part of the world. To add to this complexity, we also have to deal with a more dispersed regulatory environment that shapes how devices are developed and how strategic decisions are made. Financially, small and medium size companies in this market do not have access to capital as in North America, therefore investment in capital equipment must be considered carefully and investment decisions take significantly more time.
How is ProtomedLabs addressing this opportunity?
Our geographic position helps us reach out to most customers in this market as we are more or less all operating within the same time zone. As a European company, we also understand the regulatory and financial challenges that our customers are dealing with. Joining our forces with companies like ViVitro Labs Inc and Machine Solutions Inc contributes to building an integrated offer, a one stop shop for cardiovascular device testing. By providing engineering solutions in both equipment and services, we are able to grow with our customers to address needs at various stage of the development process for start-ups, small, medium and large size companies.
What is the progress to date?
We are still a small company and still in the process of building a name and a reputation in the device testing business. We are excited about the prospects of providing equipment solutions with two major cardiovascular devices equipment manufacturers like ViVitro Labs Inc. and Machine Solutions Inc.
How will ViVitro Labs equipment help in your efforts?
Trans-catheter heart valves are considered to be one of the most challenging devices to put on the market and one of the most challenging to fund. Trans-catheter heart valves requires a broad experience in device development. We are dealing with customers who are extremely knowledgeable and companies that are taking significant investment risks. Therefore, our customers are looking for effective and reliable solutions for devices testing. As an integrator, ProtomedLabs provides an array of solutions for implants and delivery systems testing. ViVitro Labs will reinforce our current equipment offer by providing high quality heart valves testing equipment.
What are your future goals?
Our future goals is to continue building our test equipment offer and work with our existing partners to bring innovative solutions for device testing.
Do you have any advice for cardiovascular researchers and device companies in the region?
Today, funding opportunities for the cardiovascular device market is extremely challenging and high risk. VC money in its traditional definition is scares and governments research grants are harder to obtain. This forces start-up companies and research labs to find innovative business models and alternative sources of funding. Crowd funding, accelerator models, private and public incubators and specialized foundations could all provide a great way to boost investment in cardiovascular innovation. Industry associations and all the major players in Europe need to join forces and pool resources to take a more proactive role at supporting those trends. Finding sustainable funding models to develop future innovations is key to growing our industry in this part of the world.
Today, ProtomedLabs is acting as a catalyst for cardiovascular device testing in Europe and brings equipment partners such as ViVitro Labs Inc and Machine Solution Inc. together to offer a unique model for device testing. Our clients will benefit from working with an integrated device testing platform which can bring expertise is both equipment and services.
Read more interviews with Cardiovascular Pioneers.