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Mabel Gimeno: Transforming the Methods for Early Eyecare with Innovative Tech Solutions

DIVE Medical | Mabel Gimeno
DIVE Medical | Mabel Gimeno

What if questions were not asked? What if the existing challenges were not solved? And what if the world still believed in the facts bestowed through the loops of hierarchical levels?

Can’t imagine a world like that right?

That’s more of a reason to thank the leaders, who stepped up, questioned the problems, and solved them innovatively to present an easy-going path for all in the future.

In this list of such exemplary leaders, we at InsightsCare crossed paths with Mabel Gimeno who is transforming the lives of many patients who are diagnosed with vision-related challenges. Though she comes from an educational background in the Arts field, she has effectively utilized her innovative leadership skills to intricately design solutions for early vision care. She presented these solutions to the healthcare world when she cofounded DIVE Medical with Victoria Pueyo and made a big jump in the MedTech sector in 2020.

As the CEO and Co-founder of this startup, a pioneer in early vision care with eye-tracking and artificial intelligence technologies, she is currently immersed in its commercial launch.

Through the interview highlights below, let us indulge in her contributions in changing the MedTech sector with her innovative and visionary leadership!

Mabel, kindly brief us about yourself and motivate us with the inspiring tale of your professional journey so far. 

I have a degree in BA and an MBA from IESE. After starting my career in marketing departments in FMCG companies that belonged to P&G or Danone, I have spent 20+ years in management positions in SMEs, reaching the General Management of Araven, a B2B company selling in more than 40 countries.

After taking the leap into entrepreneurship by creating my own innovation food consultancy, I made a big jump to the MedTech sector in 2020 and co-founded DIVE Medical together with a group of researchers from the University of Zaragoza and the Health Research Institute of Aragon, in Spain.

As the CEO of this startup, a pioneer in early vision care with eye-tracking and artificial intelligence technologies, I am currently immersed in its commercial launch.

What has been your source of motivation and inspiration in your in achieving your career milestones and becoming a successful leader in the MedTech industry, especially as a woman leader?

My curiosity and love for big challenges determined my interest in a career related to marketing and innovation, where I achieved relevant milestones in building new strong brand positionings and launching successful new products.

I gradually moved to smaller companies and different sectors where building things from scratch, working in multidisciplinary teams, and finding ways to develop successful business models in international environments became my motto. I am now applying all my business knowledge to the MedTech sector with the support of partners with extensive experience in accessing private and public health customers.

In this case, the impact we can have on millions of patients with low vision adds extra motivation, since I have experienced what a late detection of a vision problem can have on a child with my youngest child.

Please tell us about DIVE Medical and what were the ideas and developments that led to its inception.

DIVE Medical S.L, is a MedTech company that offers a proprietary technology based on eye tracking and artificial intelligence for screening and complete examination of visual function in a fast and accurate objective manner. It caters even to patients with cooperation problems such as preverbal children and people with cognitive problems or elderly people.

We live in a world where more than 1 billion people live with low vision worldwide, one third of the 810 million children with vision problems are not detected early and 25 percent of children have vision-related learning disabilities.

In this world, Victoria Pueyo, a pediatric ophthalmologist in a tertiary care hospital in Spain and co-founder of DIVE, was faced every day with patients with whom it was very difficult to get objective data on how their vision was in the past and to make good decisions. These are the most vulnerable patients, babies, or those who present cooperation problems in visual examinations due to neurocognitive causes. And she knew that technology can be of great help to them.

Her meeting with computer engineers was critical to start a project and after 6 years of research, DIVE Medical was founded as a spin-off of the University of Zaragoza in February 2020, and that is when I joined the project for its commercial launch.

Currently I lead a multidisciplinary team of 13 people, made up of healthcare professionals, engineers and business and marketing profiles. 

What are the products and services that your company offers and how is it impacting the demographic concerned?

Our technology has two main fields of application with two different software modules in a unique device:

  • In examinations of visual function by vision specialists, ophthalmologists and optometrists, providing objective metrics not dependent on the examiner for diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatments.
  • In visual screening performed in primary care providing an immediate indication of the need or not for referral to a specialist. By applying AI to the metrics obtained, the screening can be performed by personnel with minimal training.

We are able to explore children from six months of age and people with neurocognitive diseases with a greater accuracy.

How does your company ensure maximum care for nonverbal patients too? How is it revolutionizing the sector?

The team has been really obsessed from the beginning of the project to make our technology capable of reliably testing the most vulnerable groups, the patients that cannot provide feedback on what they see.

It has been essential to make clinical trials in five countries, Spain, Mexico, China, Vietnam, Russia and Hong Kong, with patients from six months of age, affected by a large number of visual pathologies, and also with disabled patients.

We have recently submitted a patent covering the methods and processes to validate the eye tracking data for performing different tests.

In what ways are you adopting emerging technologies to upgrade your deliveries? What has been the success and impact of eye tracking and Artificial intelligence technologies that you are currently using in your operations?

Since our software relies on these technologies their contribution has been the key, but in order to reliably screen such difficult patients we have developed very deep methods and processes.

These allow us to really have reliable data for patients who are uncooperative or have limited visual function.

Moreover, as AI experts we have been able to elevate the potential of eye tracking technology and respond to the needs of a collapsed and under-resourced healthcare sector.

Being a leader comes with greater responsibilities. How do you manage the stress behind them and what do you do to practice a healthy work-life balanced lifestyle?

What works best for me is to walk every morning for at least half an hour. It helps me organize my busy mind and when I start my day everything flows better. I also walk throughout the day as much as I can and take Pilates classes.

I eat healthy and try to have lunch or dinner with my husband and my three teenager children. Sharing with them is also very important for my balance. On weekends, besides having fun with friends, I try to do as much as I can of my two passions: going to concerts and hiking in nature.

What would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs wishing to enter this industry?

Coming from other sectors I have to say that the healthcare sector is particularly challenging due to regulations, the need for strong clinical evidence, reluctance to change…so “be patient” is my first advice.

I would recommend to start contacting the healthcare ecosystem (accelerators, start-ups, advisors) as early as possible to avoid any mistakes that cost time and money.

And last, but most important, don’t dare to start selling from day one, even if you only have a first concept.

What are the future goals of DIVE Medical? How do you envision upscaling its operations and reach in 2022 and beyond?

In November 2022 we will reach a major milestone, with the MDR CE marking of our first product. Our goals are to position our brand among ophthalmologists in Europe and then expand to other geographies such as America and Asia with the best distributors in each country.

In terms of R&D, we will gradually incorporate new tests to become a more comprehensive solution that will appeal the vast majority of eye care professionals.

Please share any clientele, awards, and recognitions. 

We already have some devices booked and will close our first sales in Spain by the end of 2022.

We were selected in 2020 as one of three healthcare companies to invest in by Banco Sabadell. We have also received different grants from the Spanish Ministry of Innovation and recently received the Seal of Excellence from the European Union.

We have been recognized with the Emprendedores XXI and GooDs awards among others.

And, we have been selected to participate in entrepreneurship programs of first level institutions, EIT Health, Ship2B, Rafael del Pino Foundation and MIT Sloan School of Management and ESADE with experts from Silicon Valley.

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