Australian medical technology company LBT Innovations (ASX: LBT) has signed a marketing agreement with clinical diagnostics specialist Beckman Coulter for the sale of its culture-plate screening and interpretation technology throughout Europe.
Under the terms of the three-year strategic partnership, Beckman will act as marketing agent for LBT’s automated plate assessment system known as APAS Independence, which uses artificial intelligence to automatically screen, interpret and sort agar plates in busy pathology labs, enabling faster delivery of patient results.
The technology has been commercialised by LBT’s joint venture company Clever Culture Systems (CCS), in which it holds 50% equity alongside German laboratory instrument manufacturing company Hettich Holding Beteiligungs- und Verwaltungs-GmbH.
Initially, the marketing agreement will focus on Germany, the United Kingdom and France, where Beckman will seek to make qualified customer introductions to CCS for the potential purchase of APAS Independence.
CCS will be responsible for the installation and ongoing service and maintenance of the technology and will pay Beckman a fixed referral fee for each sale, including increased incentives for the completion of early sales.
The partnership will see CCS retain direct in-market customer relationships while working alongside and leveraging the Beckman Coulter brand and customer reach.
LBT managing director Brent Barnes said an estimated 340 target customers in the regions covered by the agreement will “strongly benefit” from Beckman’s market reach and industry knowledge.
“This [agreement] represents a significant step forward in our APAS commercialisation strategy, adding the scale and strength of the Beckman Coulter brand to support our sales efforts in the region,” he said.
“Beckman has over 11,000 associates around the globe, making it one of the largest diagnostic companies in the world with a leading market share in Europe [and] we look forward to this being the start of a successful long-term partnership,” Mr Barnes added.
As the only technology currently available for automated culture plate reading, Mr Barnes said APAS Independence fits neatly within Beckman’s suite of modular automation products, completing an end-to-end solution for customers and aligning with LBT’s strategy of building modular solutions for lab automation.
Rollout of the marketing agreement will commence later this year.
Results released last month from an independent US-based evaluation of APAS Independence have shown the tool to be capable of accurately identifying methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a routine clinical setting.
The three-month study saw 4,603 patient samples read automatically by APAS technology and manually by trained microbiologists at the John Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine in Maryland.
APAS achieved 100% positive readings and identified an additional three MRSA samples previously missed by the microbiologists.
Mr Barnes said the results demonstrate how the implementation of artificial intelligence and image analysis within laboratories can assist in the management of antimicrobial resistance.
“Building independent clinical data from industry-leading labs such as Johns Hopkins is important to support the commercialisation of this technology and provide a valuable reference for our customers,” he said.
“The findings of this evaluation demonstrate the clinical benefits that can be delivered to improve lab workflow efficiencies and improve patient care through greater accuracy of culture plate reading,” Mr Barnes added.