Scailyte is one of the companies that seem to have been created with the right idea, at the right time, in the right place with the right people. The story of this startup is interesting; it was born in Switzerland, but what’s most interesting is that one of its founders is a young Bulgarian who attracted to this international team other talented Bulgarians.
Petar Nestorov studied Molecular Biology at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” for two years, then, he graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Tübingen, Germany. Later on, he was involved in scientific work and received a PhD in Genetics in Basel. The institute where he wrote his dissertation was associated with large pharmaceutical companies. They supported it as a platform for fundamental science, useful for their future innovative products. Dr. Nestorov found himself in an environment where science, business and education worked together and from there, he started his career as an entrepreneur. At that time, he became acquainted with a new technology that generated data, which were interesting from a biomedical point of view but were difficult to analyse. He saw its potential, but at that point he didn’t have a solution to the problem.
After he defended his doctoral thesis, Petar Nestorov started working at the Swiss company Witec. Its activity was the distribution of instruments for scientific research in the field of biomedicine. During the meetings with the people who used them, he noticed again that their main problem was the complex analysis of the data, and nobody knew how to make this data “speak”. He then contacted Prof. Dr. Manfred Claassen of the Technical University of Zurich, a specialist in computer-based methods for analysing such data, and one of the pioneers in the field. But it was still early for joint action and the young Bulgarian continued to work at Witec in order to be closer to the market. When he was sure that more and more companies were willing to pay for a service, related to the analysis of biomedical data, he contacted Prof. Claassen again, and thus, the idea of Scailyte was born.
In order to develop professional software that had the capacity to process increasingly larger databases and serve users all over the world, Petar and Manfred needed partners to complete the team with the necessary experience and qualifications. They attracted as a co-founder Dr. Dennis Göhlsdorf who, just like both of them, had graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Tübingen. Dr. Göhlsdorf, however, had specialised Software Engineering and had been working for Google Germany for four years. But at the end of 2016, Google left the city where he had settled with his family, and he did not want to move anywhere else. Right at that moment, the two founders contacted Dr. Göhlsdorf and he agreed to dedicate himself to Scailyte, but from a distance. They attracted another engineer as a co-founder - Dr. Daniel Sonnleitner. They were missing a good financier and invited Anna Dimitrova who had extensive experience as an accountant and financial consultant in multinational companies based in Sofia. She became Finance and Operations Director and helped them prepare a solid business plan in order to convince investors that they not only had a good idea and team but also a scalable business model. The team consisted of 12 people at that time, and several Bulgarian business partners were among Scailyte’s international business partners.
In 2018, Scailyte became the big winner of the USD 100,000 Diamond Prize from the MassChallenge accelerator. This global entrepreneurial programme takes place in four places in the world - the United States, Israel, Switzerland, Mexico. Last year, the focus of the developments in the Swiss format of the accelerator was healthcare and food. Scailyte was developing a promising technology based on artificial intelligence and biomedical data, and that gave them a head start. But what really impressed the jury was the team with its competencies, experience and dedication. It included people who were knowledgeable on developing algorithms for data analysis; experts in biological sciences who also had clinical experience; specialists who skilfully sold this software.
The development of the software for analysis of biomedical data is now ready and will be released on the market in the first quarter of 2019. Scailyte's ambition is to create new methods for early diagnosis of diseases, such as cancer and immune diseases. They already cooperate with the University Hospital in Zurich. Their clinical partner is the Bulgarian Emanuela Genova, a leading dermatologist on a global level who also graduated from Tübingen. They focus their efforts in the early diagnosis of skin cancer, which is similar to atopic dermatitis and often remains unidentified. If the right therapy begins at a later stage, the battle with the problem is ineffective.
Scailyte continues its rapid development. At the end of 2018, the company received funding of CHF 2.5 million. But that became possible after having successfully passed the accelerator's training programme. The leading investor is the investment fund of Swisscom, one of the largest IT and telecom companies in Switzerland with a focus on innovation. The future of healthcare is more and more directed towards personalised therapy and prevention, Dr. Petar Nestorov says. His ambition is for Scailyte to improve the quality of life of people by developing a new generation of diagnostics, based on single-cell data.