From teenager to early adulthood
On 5th July 2000, Sophion Bioscience was founded as a spin-off from the Danish pharmaceutical company NeuroSearch. It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed.
From the annals on our servers and a carefully written diary by Sophion’s first CEO Torsten Freltoft, it is fascinating to follow the first years after the founding. As with all start-ups chasing capital was a part of everyday life to secure the development of what ended up being QPatch. Also, longer entries about Fussball-tournaments and fun nights out at conferences take up a lot of space and of course the inauguration of the new facilities that were opened in 2001.
With the launch of the QPatch in 2005, Sophion started manufacturing, and focus changed from securing capital for development to securing global growth. Around that time someone wrote in one of those vision statements, that were very popular in the ’00s, that potential users of the APC systems not only needed the system and measurement plates but that strong support from application scientists and field service engineers was needed by users and lacking from other vendors. Today, 16 years later we operate from the same principles, ensuring that our users are always supported by a dedicated team of Application Scientists and Field Service Engineers.
In the years from 2005-2010 new installs were booming and Sophion was on the list of fastest-growing companies in Denmark for four consecutive years. While production was busy ensuring supply for new users, R&D continued new developments on the QPatch introducing, among others, the worlds-first automated Rs compensation, ligand applications, QPatch HT (48), multi-hole QPlates and current clamp. All features that are now standard on all Sophion products and most commercially available platforms.
In 2011 a major transformation occurred when Sophion was integrated with Biolin Scientific. Although ‘only’ 11 years old at that point it forced Sophion to grow-up quickly as a company and we still benefit today from the professionalism and structure that was introduced in the Biolin years. A more efficient supply chain and financial reporting system, as well as our ISO 9001 certification, are all processes that we enjoy today and that made us better equipped for the future.
When Qube 384 was introduced in 2014 it changed the way ion channel drug discovery could be done. With 384 individual channels, patch-clamp experiments running primary screening could suddenly be performed. With the introduction of the stacker solution in 2015, it became possible to perform overnight unattended screens of up to 15 QChips, something which is performed routinely by leading CROs and pharma companies on Qube 384 today.
However, the integration into a larger corporation was not a commercial success, and in 2017 a management buyout resulted in Sophion again being “masters in our own house”. After that, things have speeded up again, as many of our current and new partners have noticed. With the introduction of QPatch II 48, QPatch II 16, Qube Opto, online V½ estimation, and the new improved temperature controller, our APC systems are now easier than ever to use, with more advanced features. Double-digit growth, year on year, for the past 4 years has put us in an interesting new situation where we are running more EU projects, more industry partnerships, and more academic collaborations than ever.
In 2020 Sophion Bioscience is stronger than ever, and despite a challenging “Corona-quarter” in Q2-2020”, the future looks bright and promising. While parts of the world are still in lockdown, the crates shipped from Copenhagen in the past few weeks are a sure sign that other parts of the world are opening up again.
With Qube and QPatch installs in all major pharmaceutical companies we are proud to have left our mark on the ion channel field for the past 20 years and plan to continue doing just that for the next 20 years as well.
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference”
We do not know what the future holds. In the first twenty years, we have managed not only to bring the world’s best APC platforms to market, combining high performance and data quality with a design that makes them so easy to use that patch clamping is accessible to everybody. We promised back then to “take the voodoo out of patch clamping”, and we believe we have achieved just that.
What we can promise you for the future; We will continue to be inquisitive and innovative. We will continue to push the boundaries, enabling ion channel drug discovery and adjacent fields by combining ease-of-use with performance. We will do that while honouring the vision from 2004 because we ‘choose to focus on customer support’.