Peter Hope is the co-founder of Neon Diagnostics, a UK based medical diagnostics company that provides a broad selection of innovative diagnostic tests and systems for the early detection, monitoring and management of diseases. Its extensive product range encompasses diabetes, cardiac, thyroid, cancer and infectious diseases. B P Collins spoke to Peter about how he got to where he is today, the challenges ahead and plans for the future.
How did you become the founder of Neon Diagnostics?
I have been in the pharmaceutical sector for many years, working for big, blue chip companies where I received extensive clinical product training and exposure to several healthcare markets. Setting up my own company seemed like the obvious next step after the many years I had spent working in the sector.
Hardest part of the job?
The sector is hugely competitive, with many companies already supplying similar products that meet the required NHS standards, so it can be difficult to differentiate. Added to this, is the increasing demand from customers and the NHS for newer and better technology. To remain ahead of the competition, we must anticipate our patients needs and then try to predict where the market is heading.
Best part of the job?
I’m a marketeer at heart and it’s one of the best professional experiences when you set out your 3-5 year plan and strategy and then deliver on your forecast.
How have you contributed to Neon Diagnostics’ success?
Neon Diagnostics was an idea that I had for a while and when I met my co-founder, who was also in the pharmaceutical sector, we decided to set up the business. It was difficult at the beginning and very time intensive as I had to be involved in every aspect of the business. In the first year alone, I travelled over 70,000 miles in my car to client meetings, but that effort has paid off as we now employ 15 full time staff.
How has B P Collins contributed to your success?
They have been of considerable support and benefit to us. In the early days of the business, we tended to agree a deal with our manufacturing partners over a handshake. It was all very honourable but as we grew, we knew that we needed proper legal agreements in place and this is where B P Collins has been a great help.
For example, they drafted and documented distribution agreements with two of our manufacturing partners, one of which was subsequently bought out and tried to take over our business, but the strength of our agreement meant that this could not happen, so our business was protected thankfully. B P Collins has also provided an invaluable service in drafting legal letters to help in combatting the direct threat to our business posed by parallel import of products, which are non-counterfeit products imported from another country without the permission of the intellectual property owner.
What are the company’s plans for the future?
Over the next 18-24 months we aim to launch innovative new products for which we are confident will help to sustain our current growth rate over the next five years.
What challenges do you face?
The next two years will be very challenging as we phase out older existing products and launch new innovative products into a fast paced and much changed healthcare market place. The pandemic has affected our business in positive and negative ways. For example, the NHS has advised diabetics to better manage their glucose levels to help prevent Covid-19 infection and our products assist patients in achieving desired glucose levels.
On the other hand, the pandemic is changing our engagement with the NHS as Health Care Professionals are understandably busy dealing with the virus, so it’s difficult to access them and promote products not directly related to this, such as medical devices and Point of Care Testing (POCT) equipment. Patient training has also been affected and is now provided remotely by video link.
Brexit is affecting us too because of the uncertainty over non-EU international trade agreements and new forthcoming non-EU medical device regulations. Our goods are manufactured by our overseas partners in Asia and we are now holding a lot more stock – eight months’ supply rather than our usual three months to combat any anticipated supply issues with UK ports being jammed up. If this happens, we would have to consider airfreighting goods into the UK which would significantly increase our transport costs.
The anticipated amount of red tape and bureaucracy with Brexit is also worrying as our products will have to be registered to meet UKCA regulations in addition to the current EU regulations.
If you weren’t the owner of Neon Diagnostics, what would you be doing?
I’d probably set up another company in the healthcare sector providing innovative cost-effective products which successfully empowers patients to achieve optimal health levels.
For more information on Neon Diagnostics please visit Neondiagnostics.co.uk.