LBT Innovations (ASX:LBT) appoints US distributor

LBT Innovations Limited (ASX:LBT) CEO and Managing Director Brent Barnes discusses the appointment of a US distributor for the company’s APAS Independence instrument.

Lauren Evans: Hi. This is Lauren Evans for the Finance News Network. Today, I’m speaking with CEO and Managing Director Brent Barnes from LBT Innovations (ASX:LBT). LBT designs advanced solutions for the medical industry, and its lead technology is the Automated Plate Assessment System, which delivers efficiencies for microbiology labs. This technology is being commercialised through LBT’s joint venture partner Clever Culture Systems. Brent, nice to meet you and welcome back to the network.

Brent Barnes: Thanks, Lauren.

Lauren Evans: So, Clever Culture Systems recently announced the appointment of a distributor for the US market. Can you tell us more about this?

Brent Barnes: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really with excitement that we announced the appointment of Thermo Fisher Scientific as our exclusive distributor for the United States. Many shareholders that have been following us are across the significance of this milestone. And that’s just been because it’s been in the pipeline now for over 12 months. And so, we’re really pleased to deliver the milestone in this third quarter, which is the guidance that we’ve given to the market.

Under the terms of the agreement, CCS, or Clever Culture Systems, has entered into a five-year exclusive agreement with Thermo Fisher. And they will lead the sales and the marketing efforts in the United States for our APAS Independence product. In addition to this, they’re also going to take the ownership of the customer support and the maintenance for the instrument. And so, it’s really taking that full customer ownership of the product for our customers in the US market.

Lauren Evans: Thanks, Brent. So, for people who aren’t familiar with Thermo Fisher, what does this news mean for LBT Innovation?

Brent Barnes: So, Thermo Fisher, for those who haven’t heard of them, they’re a really large global organisation. They’re a public company listed on the NASDAQ. We’ve been working with their global microbiology division and that’s where the APAS Independence sits. And, importantly, it will be added to Thermo Fisher’s existing portfolio of products within that microbiology department.

One aspect that we see as a real opportunity for Thermo, as well as our customers for that matter, is to offer APAS with their existing media consumable. So APAS, when you think about it, automates the reading of culture plates, and Thermo Fisher are a leader of culture plate manufacturing and distribution.

In terms of the US market, it’s our single largest market, and we think Thermo are really well placed to take advantage of that 1,500 laboratory opportunity for us that could benefit from APAS Independence. I think, finally, in a similar way, Beckman Coulter, who conducted some due diligence with us a while ago, Thermo Fisher went through a similar exercise. And I think, for shareholders, we should all take a lot of gratitude and acknowledgement of the endorsement that we now have of two big companies going through that process and signing up to having involvement, distributing and being part of getting this product to market.

Lauren Evans: And how will your customers view this appointment, and what can shareholders expect in terms of the next steps?

Brent Barnes: Customers are going to view it really positively. Thermo Fisher are very much a household name. They’re a dominant player of culture plate media, and have really good market share in the US. So, we see it’s got to be super positive. But I think perhaps a better way of thinking about it is that our APAS product is now going to get that visibility across more customers in the US than we’ve ever been able to do previously. And this was always a part of our strategy to assign a big US distribution partner.

Shareholders should really feel optimistic around the criticality of this partnership, but also acknowledging the long sale cycle that we do expect and have communicated for a little while.

In terms of next steps, we’ll obviously be working through sales training and business plans and metrics and the like, and some of that work has been done to some extent. But in the really near term, at the end of this month, there’s a fairly large conference in Atlanta this year. It’s the American Academy of Clinical Chemistry. So, it’s not specifically microbiology, but many of our lab directors and lab folk will attend this meeting. And so, what we’re doing is working towards having some APAS material available on Thermo’s fairly sizable booth. And, certainly, our US sales executive will be there talking with the Thermo team, and we expect a number of customers too.

Lauren Evans: Last question from me, Brent, and changing focus, what is the latest with the USFDA submission for your MRSA analysis module?

Brent Barnes: MRSA, for those who don’t know what that is, is golden staph. And this is a routine test that happens in labs all over the world. And we’ve had a USFDA submission at play for some time now.

I want to be firstly really clear that we expect a positive outcome of our submission, and we’re really not concerned. We’ve not had to make new resubmissions or restart things. We’ve just simply followed the process. And, unfortunately, the COVID situation, as communicated previously, has really prevented the speed at which that process has worked through.

In terms of an update, the FDA have everything from us. So, there is nothing more we can do to influence an outcome. They’re very busy with COVID. We are interacting with them. And to the best that we have been able to give shareholders some guidance, we’ve worked with the FDA to try to provide some timing. And really very much across the fact that we’ve said the end of September. And we’re hopeful that that does happen, but it’s really out of our control.

I think probably I’ll end by saying that it’s not impacting our sales efforts. We have a really great module that is at play, can be utilised by customers for evaluation purposes. And, importantly, we expect to have a positive result. The result is what the important thing is here. And, look, we’re hoping it’s going to happen by the end of September, but it is out of our control, and it may flow into some time in October.

Lauren Evans: Well, Brent Barnes, thanks for the update, and I look forward to hearing from you again later this year.

Brent Barnes: Thanks, Lauren.

Ends