A New Invention in Morocco

Dr. Abdeladim Moumen is creating a new technology in Morocco. The scientist and entrepreneur has invented, developed, tested, and soon will market a medical diagnostic kit. This has never been done before in Morocco. His company, Moldiag, short for Molecular Diagnostic, was founded in 2015 to bring affordable medical testing solutions to Morocco. And, Abdeladim says, “We think it’s very scalable.” The new medical innovation, and the potential impact and scalability earned Abdeladim and Moldiag $150,000 in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Award.

Three to Four Times Less Expensive and Increased Accessibility

Abdeladim says that when a patient needs a lab analysis, they go to a laboratory. Then, lab techs “do some analysis, and give you the results. These labs use tests, which are constituted from chemicals and things to measure several factors such as blood sugar, etc. These tests are the things we are developing. Our customers are the medical and pathology laboratories within hospitals.”

This process will not change much with Moldiag. The difference is the price. At three to four times less expensive, Moldiag offers a better choice for patients and laboratories. Local research, development, and production, Abdeladim says, “Moldiag “is very cost effective.” Currently, Moldiag is developing two testing kits; one for cancer and one for infectious diseases and others will follow.

In addition to being less expensive, Moldiag hopes to bring an entirely new product to the market. Abdeladim says, “One of our future objectives is to develop point of care products, like a take home test… Something like the one measuring your blood sugar, or pregnancy tests. This kind of test is a very big demand. For patients with hepatitis and other blood diseases, these tests make it easier for doctors to know what to test for before sending to the lab.” Abdeladim explains how these kits are beneficial to huge percentages of the population, especially the rural poor who live far from laboratories.

 

“This doesn’t exist in Morocco!”

Abdeladim’s excitement is palpable when he says, “This doesn’t exist in Morocco!” In 2016, the African Entrepreneurship Award’s Presidential Jury also echoed Abdeladim’s excitement, awarding him funding to continue developing Moldiag. And yet, the ever articulate and composed scientist also speaks of the difficulties of getting this sort of project off the ground. Along this journey, Award mentors have helped Abdeladim overcome barriers, and funding enabled him to continue getting his prototype to the market.

Moldiag kits bring access to diagnostics for larger segments of the population. Routine blood and infectious disease tests, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars. Unaffordable for many. Technology and equipment is exclusively imported from outside, resulting in high costs. And, for the rural poor, laboratories are far away.

Moldiag changes all of that. Abdeladim says his kits are “the first Moroccan invention by Africans, for Africa, where we can invent and manufacture bio-molecular technology here on the continent instead of relying on Europe.” The result, lowered cost and more access, and, increased pride for a continent.

 

From Scientist to Entrepreneur

Abdeladim did not get into molecular biology and oncology so he could become an entrepreneur. However, Abdeladim says he has always thought of himself as an innovator. So, when the idea matched the need, Abdeladim pursued this life-changing opportunity.

The new entrepreneur required some polish, as Abdeladim had to develop a new skill set. Along the journey, free mentors from the African Entrepreneurship Award helped Abdeladim better craft his idea. For example, early on during his application, a mentor says simply: “I gather that your kits are lower cost because they are produced in Morocco?” The mentor encouraged him to “clearly say this,” as well as “make clear any other advantages of your products over other competitors.” In Abdeladim’s mind, the advantages were obvious, but for the scientist, he was thinking medicine and chemicals, not selling his idea.

This was good enough advice and Abdeladim’s strong idea carried him on to the next stage of the mentoring journey in the spring of 2016. There, the mentoring continued. A mentor told him, “The issue of legislation, certification and registration in each market are also key issues you might wish to address.” Prudent advice, and perhaps a bit of foreshadowing. After winning the Award, this very big question of certification loomed. When Abdeladim won the Award in 2016, the kits were still in the prototype stage, far from being ready for the market. For Abdeladim, his journey of bringing a product to the market was just beginning.

Abdeladim says Award “mentoring helped us make our scientific idea into a business idea.” This is a challenging process. The new entrepreneur says, “If you want to have a medical product authorized, you need a file that contains a lot of things. I already have clinical validation in Morocco, and from Spain from a recognized center of pathology. In addition to being validated, it has to be published in a scientific journal. This means it will be reviewed by many people. It needs to be respected and be considered ethical.”

Mentoring helped Abdeladim navigate these difficulties, and funding enabled him to hire a manager to help with paperwork. Abdeladim, in the meantime, has hit the road.

 

Preparing for Launch

“I am actually a scientist,” quips Abdeladim. And now, this scientist is traveling throughout Morocco to laboratories to pitch Moldiag. An Award mentor once asked him, “How are kits sold in country and what incentives does this sales structure have to push your kit? Who are your target customers, and why would they choose your product over the current product?” These are the questions that Abdeladim is now answering as he meets with customers and stakeholders all over the country.

So far, the results have been promising. Abdeladim has partnered with another oncologist and infectious disease specialist to develop his kits. He hopes to hire as many as 10 on the development side and more once production goes full scale. The team is excited about the future.

Abdeladim says that potential clients “like the fact that Moldiag is coming from inside from Morocco, with Moroccan hands. This is something that has impressed people. They are just waiting for the authorization to use my product!” Many of these laboratories have provided samples to test and he says, “They are really excited to get the product in the market.”