Kanata healthtech firm seeks more foreign markets after landing $1M in fed funding

Evik reagent pellets
Evik Diagnostic Innovations' main products are small pellets that contain freeze-dried droplets of reagents used in medical testing. Photo courtesy Evik Diagnostic Innovations

An Ottawa health technology firm that’s seen its revenues skyrocket during the pandemic plans to grow its workforce by more than 30 per cent and boost its manufacturing capacity after receiving nearly $1 million in new federal funding.

Evik Diagnostic Innovations says the capital from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario will allow the 34-employee company to hire up to 14 more workers and expand its research and production facilities on Schneider Road in Kanata from 12,000 square feet to more than 15,000 square feet.

Founded in 2010, Evik Diagnostic specializes in developing and manufacturing components used in tests that detect and analyze symptoms of a range of viruses and diseases, including the virus that causes COVID-19, influenza, HIV and anthrax. They are also used in applications such as water-testing discs that measure the amount of chlorine and other chemicals in swimming pools.

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Evik’s main products are small pellets that contain freeze-dried droplets of reagents used in medical testing, allowing the reagent to maintain a constant temperature while being stored and shipped to remote locations.  

The privately held company says its revenues have been doubling year-over-year since 2018. While it expects revenue growth to slow to between 20 and 30 per cent this year, it says it plans to develop new product lines and make its manufacturing plant more energy-efficient in a bid to become more competitive in foreign markets.

“We’re very much a global company,” chief financial officer Jennifer Look-Hong said of Evik, which expanded its international client base during the pandemic and now sells to customers in the United States, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and Brazil.

Evik’s primary financial backer is founder and CEO Vladimir Evtodienko, a Ukrainian-born physicist and biochemist who worked in Russia before immigrating to Canada two decades ago. The company, which also received $500,000 in provincial funding from the Ontario Together Fund in 2021, is aiming for annual revenues of $10 million, a target it hopes to hit in the next two to three years. 

Although sales have spiked during the pandemic, Look-Hong says Evik – like many enterprises in the medical devices space – faces its share of roadblocks that come from doing business in a heavily regulated industry. 

For example, she says product shipments into the U.S. have sometimes been snarled by delays in crossing the border. Look-Hong is calling for a Nexus-type system that would allow pre-approved companies to fast-track deliveries to customers south of the border.

“We’ve lost a lot of opportunities because of the cross-border issues,” she told Techopia this week. “We have clients that just won’t come to us because we’re in Canada.”

Look-Hong also says the country’s growing biotechnology industry must do more to assert itself on the world stage.

“A lot of really great talent and technology comes out of Canada, and I think we need to represent ourselves much better in the foreign markets,” she said.

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