Polyganics: A story of rapid growth and even more rapid patient recovery
Polyganics’ story has been over twenty years in the making. Since starting-up in 1999 as a spin-off from the University of Groningen, the medical technology firm has been speeding up the recovery of patients post-surgery through the intelligent application of polymer technology. Now, their products can be found in hospitals on every corner of the globe. All while keeping their expanding operations very much local: Here in the TopDutch region.
Let’s travel back in time to 1999. From a stack of advanced materials and technology research patents on a desk in the University of Groningen, added with an ambitious corporate vision, Polyganics was born. ‘By combining these patents intelligently, we are developing products for repair in the body that then dissolve automatically’, explains CEO Rudy Mareel.
Repairing the body with soluble polymers
All of Polyganics’ products are based on their own patented polymer technology, and are biocompatible (meaning they’re suitable for use in the human body) and bioresorbable (meaning they’ll dissolve after they have performed their function). This combination makes for products that are perfect for use after surgery.
NASOPORE® for example, keeps the nasal cavity open after a sinus operation and dissolves in a few weeks. ‘This is much more comfortable than the standard alternative, which are non-soluble dressings. Those grow into the wound, and it makes it extremely painful when they are removed from the nose, ’continues Mareel. ‘By now we have sold five million of these bioresorbable nasal dressings in Europe, China and the United States. If you were to put them one behind the other, you would get from here to Paris’.
In 2014, the firm sold the asset for their NASOPORE® technology to American multinational Stryker, and continued producing the bioresorbable nose dressings on the instructions of Stryker. ‘That is also how we aim to market our other products’, says Rudy Mareel.
The deal with Stryker created a sustainable source of revenue, which has given them the room for significant growth and development over recent years. With a well-experienced production and quality control team, Polyganics are currently producing more than 1 million products per year, which are sold worldwide, through their substantial global network of distributors.
ENT technology is far from their only expertise. Within their neurosurgery portfolio is a Dural Sealant Patch named LIQOSEAL®, which reduces fluid leaking into the body by producing watertight dural closure after brain surgery. ‘Without a patch there may be leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, which can produce infections’, explains Mareel. LIQOSEAL® achieved CE approval early 2020, meaning it’s now available for commercial use in the EU and, following further clinical trials, will hopefully be on its way to the US market.
‘The route from idea to market license took five years, which is extremely quick in the world of medical technology,’ says Mareel. ‘You have to use a whole series of tests to prove that your product is safe and effective. We can achieve that so quickly, because we in the company and in the region really know the rules of the game.’
Added to this, within their general surgery portfolio, Polyganics expects to launch ACTISEAL®, a product for use after liver and pancreatic surgery, onto the European market in 2022. This new product has been met with a great deal of excitement. In the States, the FDA have recognized the potential of ACTISEAL® to meet an urgent, unmet medical need, and have awarded it the ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’. This can offer accelerated entry into the US market. Already the first few patients have been successfully treated with ACTISEAL® through the European clinical trials.
Time for a new home
With all these successes, Polyganics has grown rapidly in recent years. Besides a need for increased manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand, the firm is also bringing in more and more human capital and expects to grow their currently 65-man strong team in the next few years. All in all, it’s time for a new home.
At the beginning of the year, ground was broken in the Zernike Campus – an intensive ecosystem, created for public-private cooperation with knowledge institutions and around 150 innovative companies – for the construction of Polyganics’ new headquarters. All stages of the development of new MedTech applications, from idea to production, will be found under one roof, including the head-office, über-modern R&D labs and extensive production and packaging facilities. The decision to stay and expand in the TopDutch region was not taken lightly. ‘We searched throughout the Netherlands, but Groningen seems the best place for us to stay. We work with high-quality knowledge, and that talent exists here. Retention of our staff was a key factor to stay in Groningen and the inspirational environment on the Zernike campus is the icing on the cake!.’
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