13 Jul : The Courier Mail : The City Beat
Brisbane-born entrepreneur Andreas Fouras (illustrated) is poised to radically shake up how doctors around the world diagnose and treat lung ailments.
His start-up company 4DMedical announced a $50m IPO on Friday to drive the growth of groundbreaking technology he developed and which he claims is cheap- er, better and faster than the dated alternatives on offer.
It could prove to be a key weapon in the treatment of COVID-19, which has cast a pall of uncertainty over markets and the ability of companies to go public.
But 4DMedical is pushing ahead regardless to generate much-needed cash and has just wrapped up a national road show via Zoom to drum up support from potential investors.
The capital raising comes just two months after the company won highly-prized approval from US regulators to start marketing its patented imaging product.
It already has an outpost in Los Angeles and hopes to expand into Europe and Asia shortly.
The potential is breathtaking (so to speak), with the global respiratory diagnostic market estimated to be worth $US31bn ($A45bn) a year. The market in America alone, where 73.5 million lung scans are carried out annually, is valued at $US13.7bn.
Aussie regulators with the TGA are expected to give the go-ahead either later this year or in early 2021. The float, priced at 73c a share, will give 4DMedical a market cap of $189m and trading on the ASX is expected to kick off on August 14.
Dr Fouras is set to remain the biggest single shareholder, with a 25 per cent stake.
It’s notable that Dr Fouras, who grew up in the West End as the son of a Greek immigrant who fled civil unrest and attended UQ, is not a medical doctor.
Rather, he’s an aeronautical engineer who studied the way air moved across cars and aeroplane wings to boost safety and fuel efficiency.
That work produced something of an “aha” moment in 2005, when he adapted his research into (bear with us here) algorithms that convert a sequence of lung X- rays into four-dimensional data. For the non-technical among us, that’s 3D with time added.
It means doctors, after sending scans to the company, can get a far clearer picture in real time of trouble spots in the lungs where respiratory diseases such as asthma, cancer and other nasties may be flaring up. A diagnosis can be made in just three hours and subsequent treatments are more precise.
After coming up with the concept, Dr Fouras and his team oversaw years of studies and trials before they launched the company, previously called 4Dx, in 2013.
He really took a huge gamble to make it happen, selling the family home and borrowing money from relatives. Talk about risky business!
A RICHER PICTURE
Not surprisingly, the company has been in cash burn mode since then, with accumulated losses of $34m, according to the float prospectus. Red ink in the December half reached $5.1m and for the 2019 financial year it was $7.1m.
But compensating for that financial drain has been previous capital raisings, including $15m from convertible notes in December. Research funding has also come from the American Asthma Foundation.
The federal government is helping to prop up 4DMedical too. Back in April it tipped in nearly $1m as part of the first stage of its Medical Research Future Fund Frontiers initiative.
The company is currently among 10 finalists in the second stage, which could see a fill up of between $50m and $100m. A decision is expected in September. Now with his firm on the cusp of a global break- through, Dr Fouras told City Beat that the prospects for patients and doctors are “nothing short of revolutionary’’.
“Our technology offers dramatically better information for doctors. It gives them a much richer picture of what’s happening in someone’s lungs,’’ he said.
“It’s so motivating for me.’’