Hart Biologicals are reagent and contract manufacturing experts, involved in all areas of Coagulation and Platelet Aggregation. Since taking over from company founder Alby Pattison, Managing Director Alexander Ebinger has steered Hart Biologicals through a challenging period with the economic uncertainty of Brexit and the disruptive effects of coronavirus. Despite these ongoing challenges Alex has an optimistic vision for the future of Hart Bio which he sat down with the media team to discuss.
1. Tell me a little about your past/present roles at Hart Bio
After leaving university, I started working for Hart Innovations, Hart Bio’s sister company, as Head of Research and Development. My main area of focus has always been the scientific side of the business, putting my chemistry background to good use, focusing on innovation, research, and development. Although during my seven-year tenure with Hart Bio and Hart Innovations, I’ve held a variety of different responsibilities, so my role within the company has diversified. When I started running Hart Innovations, I got more involved in the financial side of the business. This provided a solid foundation when moving to Hart Bio and helped to make the transition a more natural progression.
One of my new responsibilities since the take-over is looking after the financial wellbeing of the company, making sure we remain profitable as a business and that our products have a competitive edge in the market.
2. What was your vision for Hart Bio when you took over from Alby?
When I took over at Hart Bio in 2019, one of my first priorities was setting an ambitious growth target of doubling our turnover over the next three to five years. I devised an initial six-month plan, which involved increasing the firepower of our sales and marketing efforts, by increasing the sales team and hiring professional marketing support.
Some of our plans since then have been constrained due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions. However, we have maintained a business as usual agenda as far as possible, having regular video conferences with our distributors across the globe.
One of the great things about working in the diagnostic industry is the real-world impact our products can have on improving patient care. In this sense, it's about making a difference, not just making a profit. I felt it was important that this was reflected in our company image.
That is why we have also undertaken a rebranding exercise to improve the company’s public-facing image, with a new website and additional communication support.
3. What does that five-year goal for Hart Bio look like?
We will continue to build on our strengths of innovation and haemostasis testing and taking the business to the next level. We’re streamlining our already robust quality assurance procedures and are improving support for our distributors, who act as our extended salesforce around the world.
Diversifying our client base is another key priority. We’re proud to work with two of the biggest in vitro diagnostic testing companies in the world. However, it's important that we reduce the exposure of the business by broadening the scope of our work.
One of my areas of focus will be tapping into more medium-sized companies to balance our income streams. We’re particularly interested in working with medical instrument start-ups. Utilising our established in-house expertise and excellent manufacturing capabilities, we’re able to unlock commercial opportunities by customising and optimising reagents and test kits for our partners.
4. What are the key global markets you are looking to expand into?
India is one of our target markets and we’re currently in talks with distributors there. The Indian healthcare system has existing ties with the NHS, where our reagents are already known and recognised. This presents an opportunity to tap into a key emerging market based on our existing track-record.
There are also opportunities in Eastern Europe, where we’re looking to expand the presence of the Manchester Capillary Prothrombin Time reagent. It’s expanding very quickly in Serbia and Bulgaria and we’re looking to increase its international profile through our existing network of distributors. Eastern European healthcare systems are often state-driven enterprises, which means they are very cost-conscious. This creates the perfect opportunity to showcase the efficiencies and cost savings our products can deliver.
5. Are there new products in the pipeline at Hart Bio?
We always have something new in the pipeline here at Hart Biologicals. One of the most recent examples is the launch of our Fiix™ product earlier this year. Fiix is a pioneering innovation that is set to revolutionise INR monitoring, a form of monitoring for warfarin patients through regular blood tests. Patients treated based on the Fiix™ test show higher “time-in-range”, thereby leading to a more stable patient and a noticeable reduction in thrombosis-risk.
We worked in partnership with the medical professionals based in Iceland who developed the Fiix Test. Hart Bio were responsible for commercialising the product and successfully bringing it to market, using our in-house manufacturing expertise.
We’re not resting on our laurels and have ambitious plans for new products in 2021. We’re currently working on new platelet aggregation products, which we hope to launch early next year. The sky’s the limit when it comes to our work with reagents, so watch this space for further updates.