Fascinating Interview with Director Jérôme Declerck
Optellum Ltd have been based at Oxford Centre for Innovation over the last three years. Learn about their incredible journey from our interview with Director Jérôme Declerck.
What is your role within Optellum?
Jérôme joined Optellum two and a half years ago as Vice-President of Research and Development and as co-founder and Director. However, like most start-ups you normally end up wearing multiple hats and this is no exception for Jérôme. Some days he wears the HR hat and others, operations and even legal. It’s all part and parcel of working for a start-up and by the sounds of it, he loves it.
Jérôme has over 20 years of experience as an expert scientist and manager of medical science, working with Oxford University, Mirada Solutions and Siemens Molecular Imaging as Chief Scientist, and Director of Science and Technology, before joining Optellum.
What is Optellum?
Optellum was founded so that every lung cancer patient is diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible stage. There are many challenges in the clinical process of detecting and diagnosing patients with lung cancer. Too often, lung cancer is detected too late for treatment to be effective and this has led to poor outcomes and very low overall survival rates; only 15% of patients survive 5 years or more. The current method used for tracking patients with possible lung cancer revolves around paperwork or simplistic spreadsheets. As a solution Optellum have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that can predict lung cancer much earlier thus greatly improving the chances of survival.
How does it work?
The AI system developed works by analysing imaging of so-called lung nodules, often called ‘shadows on the x-ray’ or ‘spots on the lung’. Most such nodules are completely harmless, but a small fraction may be early signs of cancer. This system can then instantly assess if the nodule is benign or if further assessment is required. This in turn may increase the patient survival rate, and, due to quick characterisation, it may also save the hospital time and resources.
When did Optellum start?
Optellum started four years ago from activities spun off from Mirada Medical. Optellum got an office a year later, office S1 located in Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI) and the co-founders (Václav Potěšil, Timor Kadir, Lyndsey Pickup and Jérôme Declerck) joined forces in April 2017. The company then started to grow and raised money for further development.
We asked Jérôme what has helped Optellum grow over the years and he informed us that, building connections, networking and being reactive to market tests were all essential for growth and development, and this is still the case to this very day.
What do you like about OCFI?
OCFI is a fantastic facility for Optellum as it’s located in the heart of Oxford City Centre and close to Oxford train station. Outside of location, OCFI provides high speed internet, flexible licencing terms and the reception team do a great job in welcoming staff and customers on a daily basis.
Optellum have been on an incredible journey over the last four years and I am excited for their future. They have already built several strong partnerships including the NHS, NIHR, EIT Health, Horizon 2020, Innovate UK and MedCity, along with several organisations in the US and EU. We are pleased to say over the past couple of years, due to their incredible hard work and AI system, Optellum have manage to grow as a company and now occupy eight offices at OCFI.
Future projects and ambitions?
This year their aim is to build a customer base with different organisations in the UK, US and EU whilst continuing to evolve their clinical pathway for patients with lung cancer.
It will be fascinating to watch this company evolve over the coming years as Optellum are looking at using their AI technology to help characterise lung cancer evolution through the therapy journey.
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