Six months after being appointed Chairman of Diabeloop’s board, Catherine Dunand welcomes the progress made and the extremely positive perspectives
Diabeloop's short/medium term challenges, perspectives and ambitions.
Diabeloop: What is your feedback after the last few months spent at the head of Diabeloop’s board?
Catherine Dunand: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. First of all, I’d really like to thank Guillaume Charpentier who facilitated an efficient handover and kindly supported me. Diabeloop’s managers left no question unanswered and allowed me to gradually speak with most of the team facilitators in France and abroad. I have been able to measure the commitment, strength and depth of talent in the company. The core of my effort has been spent pointing out that nothing these people do is easy. Doing things well is not enough, we have to share them with each other! I have discovered strengths in the company that I had not even imagined, projects that are starting and will deliver results later, and also all the remarkable work around the commercial launch of DBLG1, the first Diabeloop’s device. It is therefore with immense satisfaction, but without surprise, that I’ve seen that commercial success is being achieved. 2021 is the year Diabeloop is beginning to transform the lives of people living with diabetes and the year the dream is becoming true. This is clearly reflected by the number of people equipped with our first solution, the feedback from the field, the satisfaction of our industrial partners, and the jubilation around the new Diabeloop communication campaign. The company has further strengthened its financial situation by securing almost €5M in new financing, and, just as importantly, its human resources with large-scale recruitment campaigns currently in progress. The only pitfall that as a French company Diabeloop is particularly sensitive to is the delay in launching our device in France, for reasons that are not all under our control. I am confident that we will soon fill the gap, and I am glad to see that the board is taking this matter very seriously and doing everything possible to find solutions.
Diabeloop: What are the main challenges for Diabeloop in the short/medium term?
Catherine Dunand: We have challenges but also opportunities that are still hidden, and I would like to start with those. We have the means to expand our range of solutions in a short timeframe and at reasonable costs, thanks to the expertise already acquired. We now have an extremely clear and board-approved clinical development plan for the US. Yourloops, our CE-marked data visualization platform, offers great potential and is already helping us secure reimbursement agreements. I also discovered the existence of the simulator (and I hear that there are even several of them here, but shhh, it’s a secret!) which is one of its kind and will allow us to keep our technological lead in the medium term. We have strong and committed teams in Germany, and the ability to expand our range of partnerships. Given these numerous opportunities, managing hypergrowth and our priorities will be the main challenges. The Diabeloop startup is becoming a mature company. In this context, it will have to preserve its agility, values, and the deep sense of purpose that I believe each of us, including the board members, feels. The HR team will also have a lot of work to do to support this ongoing transformation. As everything gets bigger, we will also have to think about automation in many ways (but this is already part of Diabeloop’s DNA). The way we are going to approach the American continent is another huge challenge, where many French startups have hit a wall. This is a topic we’re spending a lot of time and attention on, and promising solutions are emerging.
Finally, we must give Diabeloop, which is not yet financially self-sufficient, the means to pursue its growth. This is why a third round of funding is currently underway. Given the progress we have made in recent months, I am confident that we will succeed and that we can convince new investors to join the adventure alongside the company’s existing investors.
Diabeloop: From your point of view, what is the future of Diabeloop?
Catherine Dunand: With all the previous things in mind, I imagine the future of Diabeloop as radiant, reflecting the enthusiasm of the whole team, even though the role of a board is also to constantly think about risks. Risks are well identified and mitigation plans are in place in all areas. We will not fall into the trap of complacency, and Diabeloop’s management will make sure of. The only question is whether Diabeloop will eventually become a leading independent diabetes player worldwide or whether its path will cross that of a larger company to accelerate its commercial scale-up while preserving its own qualities and ingenuity. I think that the harmony that reigns between the teams, the managers and the board is the guarantee that all these topics will be openly addressed, which is also why I’m so pleased to devote time to this great adventure on a daily basis.