Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company that leverages visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities, last week presented Temple, Texas-based GBDbio with the 2014 Visionary Innovation Leadership Award for Improving Healthcare Access Globally, for its revolutionary TB REaD™ point-of-care (POC) diagnostic for tuberculosis (TB).
An early stage biotechnology company, GBDbio’s mission is to develop, manufacture and distribute diagnostics that address major needs in the global infectious disease market. TB ReaD POC is the company’s first product in development for Tuberculosis and it utilizes a ground-breaking biophotonic detection platform called Reporter Enzyme Fluorescence, which was developed by researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and Stanford University.
TB ReaD POC is being developed to offer cutting-edge medical efficacy and quality, while remaining accessible to low-resource communities by being extremely affordable and portable. GBDbio has paired the technology with a robust business model based on exceptionally low production costs. The result is a double-bottom-line solution that is primed to find rapid uptake in its target markets.
Sporadic electricity, high temperatures, water shortages, and a poorly trained workforce constrain healthcare innovation and delivery. Despite being a highly treatable disease, high numbers of TB deaths in regions such as Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are continuously reported. The cost burden of the disease is as overwhelming as the social burden, as the lack of screening options result in late diagnosis and treatment as well as overuse of more expensive diagnostic approaches.
Acknowledging all these challenges, GBDbio is developing the world’s first POC diagnostic for TB by employing “Constraint-Based Innovation,” a model of product development that allows the company to embed features that benefit countries underserved by healthcare. The TB REaD POC’s scheme combines ease-of-use, rapidity, efficacy, healthcare worker safety, and an environment-specific design. In contrast, most competing diagnostic products are designed for markets with ample healthcare training, easy access to advanced laboratory capabilities, wealth, and environmental stability.
Frost & Sullivan Research Analysr Polina Feldman says that GBDbio’s new technology “leapfrogs the need to perform time-intensive bacteria cultures or costly yet inaccurate molecular tests”, since it boosts a custom chemical that interacts with an enzyme released by the TB bacteria. “This solution offers higher ease-of-administration, rapid results via a fluorescent signaling system and low production costs.”
Its smart business model enables the company to price the product such that both public and private purchasers (the government, lab chains, doctor’s offices and informal providers) will find it attractive. Today, more than 75 million patient evaluations per year occur globally, and this number continues to grow.
Three major shifts explain GBDbio’s success with the TB REaD POC diagnostic. The first is a higher focus of major charitable foundations worldwide on healthcare; the second is the increasing demand for both financial and social returns from funders; and the last is the strong growth in diagnostics in emerging markets.
The heavily fragmented and highly constrained markets targeted by the POC TB product have made it imperative for GBDbio to focus on operational and strategic excellence. Regulatory agencies in GBDbio’s target regions have actually begun pushing for significant improvements in quality control standards due to the surfeit of poor quality products that are pushed into their markets.
Unlike companies forced to spare its funds to achieve extreme affordability, Feldman notes, GBDbio is “building a product that meets first-world expectations of quality and delivery using low-cost components and thoughtful designs.” Besides that, the company “has built strong relationships with key players such as the Wellcome Trust, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and the Clinton Health Access Initiative to pave the way for success in the markets they serve.”
About Frost & Sullivan’s Visionary Innovation Leadership Award
Frost & Sullivan annualy presents this award to the company who demonstrates a forward-thinking ability to leverage global Mega Trends and integrate their vision into processes that achieve strategic excellence. The award recognizes the efficacy of the recipient’s innovative process and the impact it has on business and society at large.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.