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Stratford-based start up creates digital stethoscope which could revolutionise veterinary care

A new digital stethoscope which could revolutionise veterinary care is about to go to market after a business support programme delivered through the University of Warwick Science Park helped it come to life.

Ademen Limited, based in Stratford-upon-Avon and founded by Alistair Foster and three colleagues in 2020, has developed a wireless stethoscope called ‘VetaScope’ which vets can use to listen to animal heartbeats and other internal sounds much more clearly, and with less need to keep an animal still to get an accurate reading.

The VetaScope, when linked to the companion app, is also able to produce a clear visual image of the data it captures, which means the vet is able to make a much more informed diagnosis compared to relying solely on the interpretation of the sounds they hear using a traditional stethoscope.

And thanks to support from the Business Ready programme throughout its growth, Ademen is now in a position to take VetaScope to market.

Business Ready delivers support to expanding businesses managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Alistair said: “The support from Business Ready, and programme manager Ian McFarlane-Toms in particular, has been absolutely fantastic.

“He helped us develop a ‘pitch pack’ to impress initial investors, encouraged us to reach out to local vets to test out VetaScope, and put us in touch with Coventry University Enterprises to access further funding.

“We are now fine-tuning VetaScope after receiving valuable feedback from Animal House Vets in Warwick, and we’re very close to bringing it to market.

“It’s a really exciting time for us, and Business Ready’s help has enabled us to develop rapidly and get to where we are while avoiding common start-up pitfalls.”

Alistair founded Ademen alongside fellow directors Victoria Yardley, Daniel Cox and Yan Pugh-Jones, who all knew each other from their time in the automotive sector.

The four looked to bring their skills to the healthcare and veterinary care markets, and the cross-industry shift has enabled them to create solutions by listening to the people working in the industry, free from the bias of embedded industry norms.

They felt there was potential in creating something that could capture digital data accurately, and realised that while equipment like ECGs were very advanced in this regard, instruments like stethoscopes were still reliant on individuals subjectively interpreting sounds rather than collecting unambiguous digital data.

Ademen developed a prototype stethoscope which uses a Bluetooth connection to play the sounds it detects through a pair of wireless headphones. The user is able to adjust the volume and move around while listening.

Ademen was introduced to Ian McFarlane-Toms, programme manager at Business Ready, and he was quick to spot the potential.

While VetaScope already had investment from angel investors, Ian advised Alistair to reach out to vets in the area and get real-world endorsements to impress future investors.

Alistair approached Animal House Vets in Warwick, run by Hugh Duffin, to see if his practice was willing to try VetaScope out. Hugh agreed and has successfully used it on all sorts of animals.

Hugh said: “It’s an incredibly useful piece of kit – I can attach the stethoscope to the animal and listen clearly to the sounds through wireless headphones. It then doesn’t matter if the animal moves around because the sound is still clear.

“Having the ability to adjust the volume is a very useful feature too – it means you can hear the tiny, quick heartbeat of a hamster and the far slower pulse of a horse with the same instrument.

“It’s a fantastic product for our industry and will enable us to make much more accurate and timely diagnoses.”

Ian McFarlane-Toms, Business Ready Programme Manager, said: “We could see Alistair and Ademen team had a great product, but they needed to make it more appealing to future investors to fulfil their ambitions.

“We strongly encouraged Alistair and the team to reach out to vets who could use the product and endorse it – and happily, the partnership with Hugh at Animal House Vets has been a great success.

“It’s brilliant to see that this idea has grown into something that is close to going to market, and we will continue to support Ademen as it grows even further.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for economy, said: “The County Council is happy to fund such a wonderful programme like Business Ready.

“Of course, we are pleased that such an exciting and innovative company is working with it and we can’t wait to see how their journey goes in the future. I am so proud of how Warwickshire keeps on helping such forward-thinking companies to develop.”

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CAPTION - From left: Victoria Yardley, Ian McFarlane-Toms, Cllr Martin Watson, Alistair Foster, and Hugh Duffin using the VetaScope on Parker the dog.

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