IBEX Innovations has been selected to exhibit in the Innovation Showcase at this year’s VentureFest North East. A small company in a world of giants, their technology helps osteoporosis diagnosis through a simple x-ray.

Describe your business in no more than 60 words

IBEX is high-tech start up developing and commercialising novel X-ray imaging technology that has applications in industrial and food inspection, portable security and medical imaging.

We employ a team of 18 highly skilled people including engineers, physicists, mathematicians and programmers. We pride ourselves on being based in the North-East and foster a culture of inclusion and innovation within the company.

What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?

Following over four years of development, supported in part by the North-East Business and Innovations Centre’s Innovation Programme, we are now ready to show off what our technology can do. We see Venturefest as an opportunity to meet other North-East based technology companies focussed on delivering cutting edge innovation, and to share what we have achieved so far with a wider audience.

Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with. 

The IBEX MAP technology is a simple upgrade to standard flat panel detectors that, along with an advanced software package, gives standard flat panel detectors the ability to collect high-resolution materials information in a single clinical exposure, whilst still returning a high-quality diagnostic image.

This information can be interpreted to provide a measure of bone-health for all patients attending a fracture clinic without the need for a separate DEXA scan. This increases the value of digital radiography systems and provides clinicians with more diagnostic information at the point of the fracture scan, leading to earlier diagnosis and prevention of conditions such as osteoporosis and reducing the incidence of fragility fractures.

It can also be used to accurately predict and remove the effect of scattered X-rays without the need for a physical anti-scatter grid, resulting in higher quality images at lower patient dose.

The technology can be applied across the full range of X-ray imaging modalities, including computed cone beam tomography, fluoroscopy and mammography.

How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?

By sticking something extra onto the kit that would normally be used to give you an X-ray when you break a bone, doctors are able to tell if you might have osteoporosis without having to do further tests. It would also help younger people who wouldn’t normally get these tests but might still be at risk.

What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?

We have a technology platform that can offer benefits in a variety of applications, meaning there are many opportunities to be innovative by improving existing technology. The best part is that we are creating a technology that will genuinely help people by improving diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions or by making airports safer for example.

The hardest part is deciding what to focus on. We have so much opportunity but if we spread ourselves too thin then nothing would ever get finished. Having to put good ideas to one side while you focus on others is always difficult but it has to be done.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

We are a small company in a world of giants. Particularly in the medical industry where the big companies dominate. Fortunately, we have developed our technology in a way that allows us to work with them rather than against them and should enable us to get the technology adopted in the widest possible way so that patients all over the world can benefit.

Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?

We are lucky in that we have an experienced management team who understand what it takes to get an innovative technology idea out of someone’s head, onto paper and into commercial products. We have good VC backers and have also been very successful in securing grant funding through various local, national and European schemes to give us the freedom to develop the technology without worrying too much about money.

What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?

It provides further confirmation to us that people understand and are interested in what we are doing. It also gives us a platform to tell more people about what we are doing and how it can help them.

Where do you see your company in five years’ time?

We would like to see our technology embedded in products spanning the X-ray imaging market. We have a sensible business plan and expect that we will be licensing the technology to major OEMs within the medical imaging market, with those products in widespread use in the NHS and beyond.

Ultimately, we want to make a difference to people’s lives whether that is through earlier diagnosis of bone health issues, faster and safer inspection of suspect packages in airports or simply preventing fewer contaminants appearing in the food that you buy. We want the systems that make this happen to have IBEX technology inside and we expect to be there in 5 years’ time.

What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?

Coming up with ideas is only half the battle. To be more innovative you need to understand your target markets, find out what people want and tailor your idea to give solutions. A solid business plan will help focus your efforts so you don’t get side-tracked looking at stuff that might be interesting to you but not to anyone else. Finally, apply for grant funding to make your money go further. There are plenty of schemes out there designed to help companies innovate.