A company from the Netherlands that makes a camera system used to locate lymph nodes and make cancer tumors visible during surgery is setting up a base in downtown Akron to expand further into the U.S. market.
Quest Medical Imaging, a small venture founded by a software engineer from the Netherlands, initially plans an office of two to three people and hopes to have a payroll of about 20 employees in three to four years. The company’s founder, Richard Meester, said in an interview Monday that he plans to hire locally.
Meester said Akron offers relatively easy access to existing U.S. customers — including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City — and Quest’s operations in the Netherlands.
Meester said that being in the Eastern time zone was a selling point for Akron. Ohio is six hours behind the Netherlands, while the West Coast is nine hours behind, he said.
Also, he noted, “The fact that we can travel from Europe to here in about eight hours is ideal.”
Meester said that a $250,000 investment from Akron BioInvestment Funds, as well as a skilled workforce in the area, helped the company decide to locate in Akron.
While the city of Akron initiated the Akron BioInvestment Funds there’s no city money in the organization. Investors — who chipped in money to create the fund — include companies, such as Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp., and nongovernmental institutions.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, speaking at a Monday news conference at City Hall, said the city established the fund with the hope “we could attract high-tech companies like Quest as they expand their biomedical business.”
Plusquellic introduced Meester at the news conference.
Another Akron lure: Meester’s company will locate in space at the city’s Akron Global Business Accelerator, the business incubator in the old B.F. Goodrich complex on South Main Street in downtown.
The Global Business Accelerator offers space at about half the market rate, said Bob Anthony, who works with the facility and attended Monday’s news conference.
Meester initially heard about Akron as a potential U.S. base from another native of the Netherlands — Bernardine van Kessel. She is director of international business attraction for Team NEO, the regional business-attraction nonprofit organization that has offices in Cleveland. Meester said van Kessel stopped by his company in the Netherlands one day about two years ago to promote Northeast Ohio as a spot to locate U.S. operations.
Meester said Quest Medical is a startup venture that is part of his Quest Innovations, which began in 1998. Quest Innovations makes camera systems for military and industrial applications. Meester founded Quest Medical four years ago. He said Quest Innovations money is being used to start up the medical camera venture’s U.S. office in Akron.
Meester said the medical camera system — a unit runs about $250,000 — needs U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for use in locating the edges of tumors in cancer surgery. Clinical trials necessary for FDA approval already have begun. He expects the approval process to take two to three years.
The system is exempt from the FDA approval process for use in imaging applications such as locating lymph nodes in breast cancer surgery, and the U.S. office will first market the system for such imaging. So far, there are several of the camera systems in the United States.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.