Attila Bérces, Founder and Owner

Omixon Biocomputing Kft. was founded by Dr Attila Bérces in 2011. The company manufactures and exports one of the most advanced diagnostic products for transplantation worldwide and is one of the leading midsized companies in the international market. The company is managed by a management team of five, including Bérces, the founder-owner. Zoltán Simon is responsible for operations and Judit Kósa is the CFO.

“The company is financed by several venture capital investors: Attila Várkonyi, Márton Szőke (through Fastventures Zrt. and Lochlomond Holding), and Euroventures (joined later), were our first venture capital investors”, said the founding owner, adding that Futurmed, which belongs to Csaba Lantos, also later became an owner as a financier. Bérces says, “Without venture capital, the company would not exist, and the relationship with investors is good and close. Omixon initially focused on the development of genetic software, but over time moved into the production of diagnostic tests for transplantation and related software development.

“Before an organ transplant, you have to check that the donor and the patient are compatible, which is determined by certain genes. We entered the market with our test in 2014, which was the first in the world to clearly identify the presence of gene variants that play a key role in transplantation”, explained Attila Bérces, who added that, until 2020, the company’s revenue would only come from foreign sales: Present in 25 countries, their products are used in clinical routines in 50 laboratories.

However, 2020 marked a turning point in the life of Omixon. With the emergence of the coronavirus, transplants were rescheduled worldwide and the search for potential donors also halted. Their orders on hand halved as a result, and their revenues also fell significantly. Nevertheless, the founding owner saw the challenging period as an opportunity.

“We quickly came up with the coronavirus test as a solution, as it absolutely fitted the company’s profile, and we thought that, with our innovation capability, we could contribute to normalising the situation as soon as possible”, said Bérces, adding that the company has always faced challenges in different stages of its development, but they have always reacted well and quickly, solving the problem successfully and generating a profit rather than freezing. In 2020, for example, they came up with a revolutionary new solution: the detection of viral RNA directly from a heat-treated sample, making coronavirus testing faster and more efficient than other solutions.

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“The regular PCR test is based on detecting the RNA of the virus extracted from the sample. RNA extraction is a time-consuming process. We’ve been able to change that with the one-step test, which allows us to process two to three times as many samples in a given time compared to a regular PCR test”, he notes.

The test has been a great success, generating 35-40% of the company’s sales revenue in 2020, and has now fully made up for lost sales due to the pandemic. This product brought the company its first Hungarian customers and a significant part of its sales revenue came from Hungary. Bérces stressed that innovation in testing does not stop there, with plans to create a test that can distinguish between influenza and COVID-19.

“The detection of influenza will be part of the test without any additional laboratory work or reagent costs”, said the CEO of Omixon. They are also working to improve their transplant diagnostic test, which currently takes 2 days to complete. “This is not very effective in the case of donors from accidents, for example, where the transplant has to be done within 12 hours and the test result has to be available within 6 hours. We are now working to speed up the process. I hope that this will be one of the drivers of our growth in the years to come”, he said. The founder-owner also pointed out that technological progress is growing exponentially; this is also true for molecular diagnostics, so the number of competitors is also growing dynamically, while the fact that Omixon licenses patents in certain countries gives it an advantage over its competitors.

As he said, labour shortages are also hitting this sector very hard. They currently employ 55 people, and the software is developed by a diverse technical team of developers, testers, bioinformaticians and software support staff working closely together. According to Bérces, the company can also offer an attractive perspective for fresh graduates due to its dominant presence on the international market and, in the next 5-10 years, he expects to employ up to three times as many people. He believes that growth can be achieved by raising additional capital, so these options will be considered in the near future. He stressed that, in the last four years, they were able to grow at an extraordinary rate virtually without the need to raise external capital, and that this could be attractive to bank financiers and venture capitalists alike, as could the new innovations they are currently working on. Bérces stressed that the team has a big role to play in the company’s current position: in his opinion, the most important thing is not to have one person making decisions, but to have the best professionals from different fields in the management team.