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Start-up generation

Anna Sala, cofundadora de Adan Medical
Anna Sala

Co-founder and CMO of Adan Medical Innovation

PhD in Medicine and specialist in Allergies at Hospital Vall d’Hebron. She combines this with work on a research project on anaphylaxis for the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. She is also an associate professor in Immunology at the IQS School of Engineering at Ramon Llull University. She is passionate about innovation and research and was selected to participate in the Imagine Creativity Center Silicon Valley program where, alongside doctor of internal medicine Adrià Curran, she co-founded Adan Medical Innovation, of which she is now CMO.

Anna Sala: "In Silicon Valley everyone tells you that failure is not trying"

16.01.2018

Adan Medical Innovation was created in 2014 from a need observed in a doctor’s office: improving quality of life for patients with severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), who have to carry an EpiPen at all times, and reducing the number of related deaths, which are normally young people and can be avoided. With Adrià Curran, co-founder Anna Sala participated in an innovation program in Silicon Valley, at Imagine Creativity Center, where they were able to mature their ideas and attract the attention of investors. 

The company has developed two medical devices: one geared towards individual patients, which is a smart case for epinephrine pens connected to a cell phone, resolving the main limitations of these pens; and a smart box for epinephrine pens in public places like schools and restaurants, in case the patient doesn’t have one with them or it is the first time they have a reaction. The company is currently working to raise funding through crowdfunding.

 

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

I didn’t really decide. Several factors just came together at a decisive moment in my career. I’ve always been passionate about research and one of my fields of interest is anaphylaxis. Previously, the research I did was more basic, but stemming from the concern I saw in patients with epinephrine pens, and above all from the story of one patient that really had an impact on me, I saw that I could help in another way, too. Starting Adan Medical Innovation has been a way to learn in other areas that are also very important for doctors if we want to bring value to society that they don’t teach you at school. 

What is the most important strategic decision you’ve made so far?

I think the most important decision is choosing your travel companions well. I couldn’t imagine reaching where we are today without the people who make up Adan Medical Innovation. We’re all very different, each member of the team is an expert in a different area, but we’re all very sincere about what we do and that gives the company a lot of human value. As I heard many times, “Having a good idea isn’t hard; the most difficult part is executing it.” I think the team is everything to take a good idea all the way.

Another important decision, on a personal level, is to learn from failure. In Silicon Valley everyone tells you that failure is not trying. But here we haven’t been raised that way and when you look for first-round funding for your idea from friends, fools and family, it’s very hard not to think about failure and the people who will lose money. That’s why it’s important for those who invest to really understand what a start-up is and the risks it entails. To avoid misunderstandings if it doesn’t go well. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“If you start a business, make it something you’re passionate about.” Don’t do it because you think it will make you rich, because people can tell when you believe in what you’re doing and do it with passion. Do what you like, because then your job won’t feel like work. If you’re passionate about what you do, you don’t mind spending hours and hours to make it work. And it will be easier to get people on board with your project if they sense this passion. 

And now what? What milestones do you want to achieve in the short term?

We’ve just finished a clinical trial at Hospital Vall d’Hebron with 100 patients testing our cases, with very positive results. The first step is to share the results at congresses and then publish them. In the meantime, we’re still working to take our product to market and help improve patents’ lives.

This is why, though, we need to close another round of funding. We’re currently working on a crowdequity campaign so we can continue advancing our launch to market for the smart cases and finish development of 10 smart boxes to test in schools. Plus, the fact that we are still in contact with patients means we have many other products in pre-development, using our patented technology.