TT Electronics plc (LON:TTG) Chief Executive Officer Richard Tyson and Chief Financial Officer Mark Hoad caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their involvement in the launch of a ground-breaking COVID-19 screening device.
Q1: Some exciting news published today regarding the launch of a ground-breaking COVID-19 screening device. Richard, could you please tell us more about today’s announcement?
A1: We’ve announced this morning the commercial launch of Virolens which is a COVID-19 screening device. It’s a product that we have been working on with our partners iAbra, who are a tech start-up here in the UK, and we joined the project 13/14 weeks ago now and have taken what is, on the face of it, iAbra’s ground-breaking technology that is facilitating a 20-second COVID test with high accuracy and very high sensitivity so it doesn’t need a lot of COVID to find the virus.
We’re also here have been working on ensuring we can deliver a significant step change in cost per test so the cost of a test will be less than the price of a paperback book which when you compare to the current global standard PCR test of £150, you can see why this has the potential to genuinely get the world moving again. Not just the world and people in a safe fashion but economies too.
It’s a really exciting development for us, we’re delighted to have been chosen to work with iAbra and have signed a long-term exclusive manufacturing agreement with them to scale the product up globally, should the launch customer orders and expressions of interest turn into significant volume.
Q2: As you say, Virolens has been described as having the ability to get the world moving again in the face of COVID-19, is it potentially as exciting as it sounds?
A2: Well, we think so. To be honest, from the very moment I got the first call from the guys at iAbra and they described the technology, I could see the potential from the speed of the test. If we could make it efficient and low cost and TT Electronics’ engineers could help to design the system around iAbra’s technology, we saw the potential that this genuinely could get transport hubs moving again. You need a high speed test that gives you really good accuracy to facilitate the likes of airports processing passengers in a COVID-safe environment.
So, iAbra’s system has been on trial, a prototype on trial at Heathrow for 3-4 weeks and those trial results have been shared with the government agencies now and in iAbra’s press release yesterday, got a really strong endorsement from the CEO of Heathrow airport.
Q3: Just turning to you Mark, what is the potential upside of Virolens for the company?
A3: As we’ve said in the release this morning, there’s still really a wide range of possible outcomes here, this is something that’s moving at real pace. Launch customers are now starting to get their initial trial units so we’re awaiting their response once they get the units in their hands and we also need to get the system through regulatory approval.
So, for us, now it’s all about getting the pretty significant expressions of interest turned into firm orders but clearly, this could be material for the group.
Q4: Richard, is it likely that we’ll hear more news on the progress of Virolens in the coming weeks and months?
A4: Yes, as Mark said, it’s a fluid and fast moving situation but it’s great to have got on with our commercial product launch yesterday and it’s certainly really exciting to be sending the initial launch units to customers around the world for their initial trials in their own environments.
So, I think you should expect to see and hear from TT Electronics as and when the regulatory approval process continues to make its progress as those authorities in the UK, Europe and the US get initial units to look at.
Also, as Mark inferred, we are hopeful that, in the coming weeks, we will see these launch customers convert their expressions of interest into volumes orders and given the materiality to the group, we’ll obviously be updating everybody as and when that happens.