Original in Netherlands Financial Daily
'Pharmacists do want to pay for a secure transport chain'
By Albert Wagenaar May 27th 15:45
In ‘De Vonk’, someone talks about a defining moment in his or her career. This week: Mark Roemers, who with his company AntTail makes temperature monitoring during medicine transport easy. The temperature monitor is now being used in the distribution of corona vaccines in Uruguay.
IT entrepreneur Mark Roemers (57) ends up in the pharmaceutical industry via the supermarket. Between 2002 and 2011, he works for Dyzle, a company that supplies gas and energy meters to supermarkets. “80% of their power consumption is spent on cooling,” says Roemers. Dyzle will therefore also carry out temperature measurements in refrigerators. Wired first, later wireless.
By supplying temperature meters to supermarkets, Roemers comes into contact with the pharmaceutical sector. Measuring the temperature is also important there, during the refrigerated transport of medicines. Roemers realizes that the pharmaceutical market is much more attractive to work with. “If I want to deliver a €35 temperature gauge to a supermarket for a truck full of strawberries, they think it's too expensive. It shouldn't cost anything. Pharmaceuticals are willing to pay for a high-quality transport chain.'
There was also always 'haggling' with the parties that maintain the refrigeration. "They weren't our friends, because they kept hearing from us that the measurements showed that their cooling systems were not working properly."
A difference of opinion arises between Roemers, who has since risen to CEO van Dyzle, and his shareholders. “I wanted to grow, but they wanted to cut costs. And there were more things going on.' After a reorganization, Roemers clears the field and then decides, in 2012, with a partner to set up his own company for temperature monitoring for medicines: AntTail. They raise the starting capital themselves. After an order from pharmaceutical company MSD, an investment from a venture capitalist was added in 2015, followed by a takeover in 2018 by the JE Group.
‘My temperature gauges were not allowed to cost anything for supermarkets, but pharmaceutical industry iswilling to pay’
AntTail is further developing sensors for checking the correct storage temperature of pharmaceutical products. The company focuses in particular on temperature monitoring during the transport of medicines, for which the boxes do not have to be opened in between. This keeps the temperature around the medicines stable.
“What I like to see is that people who use it for the first time are amazed at how easily it works. With an app on a smartphone, you scan the box in which the sensor is attached. The sensor, via the smart phone,transfers the temperature data to a cloud, which stores the data and checks the temperature requirements. You will then see the result on your phone. With an app you can read up to 300 sensors at the same time.”
AntTail's temperature sensors are currently being used in, for example, the distribution of corona vaccines in Uruguay. “The temperature monitoring makes distribution a super simple model. You can vaccinate in any sports hall, so to speak, because you know that the temperature has remained stable during transport and that you do not need special cooling installations locally.'
AntTail has been working with Va-Q-Tec, a company that supplies high-quality cool boxes, for two years now. Together with Va-Q-Tec, AntTail wants to contribute to the distribution of corona vaccines in even more countries. Talks are underway with Ecuador and Brazil.
Roemers himself has never been to Uruguay. ‘I think it would be nice to visit the countries where our sensors are used after the pandemic. Then I can see it for real.”
In 2015, AntTail won the EuroCloud Award for best cloud product.
In 2018, AntTail, together with pharmaceutical company MSD, won the IoT Award Healthcare for monitoring temperature-sensitive medication.