Speeding up medical diagnostics

Abionic develops and produces blood tests based on nanofluidic technology designed at the EPFL. This recently formed Vaud-based company has gone from start-up to scale-up and is now looking to extend its horizons internationally.

It takes Abionic less than five minutes to get a reliable blood test result from a single drop of blood – a far cry from the traditional diagnostics which require hours of waiting. The recently formed company from the EPFL can guarantee swift and reliable testing thanks to a technology platform based on miniaturized sensors.

The man behind the technology is Nicolas Durand, a young EPFL nanotechnology graduate whose aim is to save time and thus hopefully save lives. "In severe cases of infection, the situation can degenerate into sepsis, which causes a death every four seconds today around the world," the entrepreneur explains. The platform meanwhile is simple to use and can carry out a number of tests. "Our solution does not have to be used by specialist technicians and can therefore be used for all immunological tests such as for allergies and iron deficiency."

Significant investment

The start-up obtained European certification in 2012 to enable it to produce its tests, which was a big step forward in terms of its credibility as a company. "We were concerned with quality from the outset and also wanted to have an international mindset," says Durand. They got their first investors on board that same year, who brought CHF 3.5 million with them.

Two years later, the first professional users, primarily doctors, were approached to validate the technology. "Our products got through their first clinical tests successfully," says Durand. This validation phase was concurrent with a new round of capital-raising among Swiss and European entrepreneurs, and the prototype then became an actual product. The production line for it is entirely Swiss and based in Lausanne, and has a maximum assembly capacity of over a million tests a year. From 2016, the company began concentrating on commercial demonstrations of its sepsis test via a wide-scale clinical study carried out on 14 sites in Europe. At the same time, Abionic got ‘scale-up’ certification – a label applied locally to high-growth companies – and continued to develop its activities globally.

« There are two main technology hubs in Switzerland – Zurich and Lausanne. Lausanne specializes in life sciences, and the biopole is the epicenter of that and, without a doubt, one of the most important life sciences locations in Europe today. »

Number of entrepreneurial awards received



37 mio

Total amount of capital raised since 2010


Patients tested

1'750 m2

Size of premises


Future jobs over the next two years

A valuable support from the Economic Promotion

Abionic was established in Lausanne and has benefited from various types of support from local economic development bodies, most notably SPEI. "This dynamic and incredibly well-run state organization provides us with support that goes above and beyond," explains founder Nicolas Durand. "They were with us when we designed and produced our first prototypes from 2010 to 2013 and continued to support us after that, but more in terms of R&D and production. It is particularly important in the initial phases of a business, when 30,000 to 50,000 francs can make all the difference. Having them alongside us opens doors to financing from the banks – when the canton is your guarantor, it certainly sets the wheels in motion. The scale-up community established by Innovaud is also a way of meeting with your peers, speeding up the growth phase, and quickly finding the right partners."

« SPEI is a dynamic and incredibly well-run state organization which provides us with support that goes above and beyond. Having them alongside us opens doors to financing from the banks – when the canton is your guarantor, it certainly sets the wheels in motion. »

Support from the Foundation for Technological Innovation was also crucial to the company. "We benefited from the three tools that it has at its disposal, and that gave us the time for our idea to develop at the start, and then to convince investors to come on board, then to launch production." Other than the help provided to get the business set up, the canton of Vaud and its life sciences pole has plenty more benefits as far as Abionic is concerned. "A veritable Health Valley is growing here with lots of companies active in the field of life sciences. This obviously makes our lives so much easier," says Durand. "Everything can be achieved quickly – you can organize meetings, come to agreements, avoid import costs…It’s also an advantage in terms of recruitment." Abionic has recently established itself at the Biopôle in Lausanne, which is under the aegis of the canton of Vaud and "without a doubt one of the most important life sciences locations in Europe today." The company was given favorable conditions to set up its business there. "The owners of the buildings listened to our needs and were open to discussion."