Aalborg welcomes automation in life science and health care
Interview with Lasse Thomsen, the founder and CEO of LT Automation.
In recent years, the Aalborg-based automation and robot company, LT Automation has turned towards a specialization in health and life science and it turns out, it’s a perfect match.
- The life science ecosystem in North Denmark is organized in a way, where we, as a private automation company, can offer solutions to public healthcare institutions. It is quite unique compared to other places in the world, says Lasse Thomsen, the founder and CEO of LT Automation.
- I don’t think that this collaboration between the public and private sectors would work equally well everywhere. In Aalborg, we have seen these partnerships succeed and we have made tremendous progress because of it.
Robot technology and automation are generally experiencing massive growth within many different industries in Denmark. But LT Automation has found a particularly great match within the healthcare sector.
That match arose from the unique location in Aalborg and the relationship with the local university hospital.
Blood samples were the beginning of something new
Lasse Thomsen's wife is a nurse, and therefore he already had a decent insight into the Danish health care system. Still, he was quite surprised that automation was not a bigger part of the health care workers everyday life.
- I actually thought that a modern hospital was way more automated. But it turns out, this is not the case - even in a leading digital country like Denmark.
- When we started working for a pharmaceutical company, they asked us to develop new technology to match their unique challenges and the results and solutions opened new doors within the healthcare sector.
- This gave us a new opportunity to further specialize the solutions to fit the need for automation in the life science industry.
The first collaboration between LT Automation and a hospital began in 2014. From the ‘Idea Clinic’ in North Denmark came the idea of structuring and tracking blood samples to a much greater extent.
- 21 million blood samples are taken every year in Denmark, and three percent of them were either lost or had errors. That number sounded absolutely ridiculous to me. If you order shoes online, you will receive four or five text messages about where they are. There is full traceability. But if you were in doubt to whether you were sick or not and had a blood sample taken, there was no traceability.
Luckily, this is not the case anymore. LT Automation found a solution which they later won the DIRA Automation Award for together with Aalborg University Hospital.
The local environment is essential
The Idea Clinic is an important entrance for the automation business in North Denmark and a major reason as to why LT Automation enjoy their location in Aalborg.
- We can make robots and inventions. But we don’t know the specific problems. Therefore, it is vital that someone highlights these challenges for us. We can develop pretty much anything but it is essential to know the kind of challenges the healthcare workers face, says Lasse Thomsen.
“The Ide Clinic also creates a local environment for companies operating in the same field. This way like-minded actors in Aalborg can share knowledge and experiences.“
The Ide Clinic also creates a local environment for companies operating in the same field. This way like-minded actors in Aalborg can share knowledge and experiences.
- That's a big part of it. We have been in the environment surrounding the Idea Clinic right from the beginning. I can just grab the phone and call someone with the exact know-how, because I know them all. We also have a CEO network in which we discuss everything from recruitment to lunch arrangements. The environment is really good in that area, says Lasse Thomsen.
Listening to the business community
When it comes to recruitment and talent, Aalborg University is an extremely important partner for LT Automation.
- We moved to Aalborg from a smaller city where we had started the company. In Aalborg, we are close to the new hospital, which we are doing business with, and we are close to the university regarding research and recruitment. There's a new educational programme in robot technology, and it's brilliant. The university listens to the business community and make new tailored programmes addressing current challenges and opportunities.
- We usually hire people straight out of the university. Within our field, the battle for talent is fierce which is why it’s important with local education. It is easier to recruit when the people already live in the city.
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