Being a business in the diagnostics space, AusDiagnostics is always on the lookout for the next infectious disease. And this awareness of what’s happening in the world of health has paid dividends for the company since COVID-19 took flight around the globe. “When the coronavirus was sequenced, we had a design of a test ready in about two weeks,” says CEO and Director Scott Gilroy.
“From there, it was a matter of putting the studies in place to support the tests that we had created.” The business was already supplying NSW Health and the Victorian Department of Health with their everyday respiratory testing equipment, so it was a simple step to use this existing framework to roll out its COVID testing. The challenge, however, was meeting the demand.
“It was like a switch was flipped overnight,” Scott recalls of the first half of 2020. As would be expected, Scott says that the global appetite for COVID diagnostics has provided an enormous opportunity for the company. But it was one that hung on the condition that it could overcome important obstacles such as a lack of raw material or a need for increased production facilities.
Yet, thanks to an international expansion plan that had seen the Sydney-headquartered company establish bases in New Zealand, the UK and the US, as well as a comprehensive distributor network in EMEA, it was well placed to scale up quickly. So much so that its global workforce has doubled in the past 12 months, Scott says, and an increase in equipment has been sourced and delivered from its suppliers.
“The company has built a lot of resilience,” he reflects. “We had to adapt to ensure we got the product in the door, otherwise we could have been facing adversity as well.” Scott, who was appointed CEO in August 2020 by the company’s Founder, Professor Keith Stanley, highlights agility and adaptability as two of AusDiagnostics’ key strengths.
Many of our competitors may create a test and then say that’s what the market needs, whereas we listen to what our customers are asking for and then work on solutions to meet that.
“We are always looking at how we can improve on what we did yesterday, whether it’s in research, testing, production or even accounting. Because as the business grows, you have to equip the operational part with enough resources so that you are able to enhance the scale of production,” he says.
After all, if its research teams hadn’t been provisioned with the latest equipment, a diagnostic for the coronavirus wouldn’t have been finished in a mere two weeks. But Scott has his sights set on success within hours rather than weeks – where humanly possible, of course.
“We’re always looking at how we can be faster and more accurate for our patients.” While COVID-19 has absorbed much of his attention, Scott is focused on pursuing a strategy of diversification.
At the request of the Australian government, the company is working to introduce the production of extraction agents to local shores in what will be a manufacturing first for the nation. He is confident that it’s just the beginning.
“What we have achieved with extraction agents really demonstrates the huge potential we have to diversify into other parts of diagnostics, whether that’s expanding our testing range, a key part of our continued development, or exploring other techniques and types of testing processes.”
Although there may be bigger international players in the diagnostics space, for Scott, success isn’t defined simply by size. “We’re succeeding in this market because we are much faster to respond when change is needed,” he says. It’s this level of responsiveness that sets it apart in the industry.
“We have extremely close relationships with our customers. Many of our competitors may create a test and then say that’s what the market needs, whereas we listen to what our customers are asking for and then work on solutions to meet that.”
But beyond delivering cutting-edge medical solutions, Scott is also aware of how important success stories like AusDiagnostics can really impact the local manufacturing scene. “Think of the Australian businesses that have gone offshore because of the costs or difficulties doing business in Australia,” he says.
“But there are also the positive stories that showcase what Australian companies and manufacturing can do, especially when supported by the government.”
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