5 mins with…Tom Cole, Managing Director of XT Biomed

Having already built up and sold successful medical device company ITL in 2018, Tom Cole realised the ‘quiet life’ was not for him.

Driven by his desire to help create products that make a difference to people’s lives, he soon found himself looking for another challenge. Spotting a gap in the market, Tom set up XT Biomed, specialising in the design and manufacture of medical and in vitro diagnostic devices.

On 1st February 2022, the brand new company opened its doors for business at the Maidstone Innovation Centre. Here, Tom tells us a bit more about XT Biomed’s work.

Tell us about XT Biomed

We’re a small team of four – mechanical and systems engineer, Tom Haydon, James Knight, head of engineering, my wife, who takes care of the bookkeeping, and me. We design and make diagnostic equipment for infectious diseases. Our clients come to us with ideas and we turn them into high tech products. We work very closely with them – they focus on the chemistry side of the product and we specialise in the hardware and electronics. The design cycle tends to take anything up to two years.

I started the company as I found myself getting itchy feet when I was supposed to be retired. I wanted to make a difference. I realised I got so much job satisfaction out of working in the medical industry – it’s so rewarding to be involved in developing something that could save lives.

Can you give us an example of something you’re working on?

We’re currently working on a disruptive technology that will help non-specialists to diagnose sick people quicker. It’s a ‘platform’ piece of technology intended to be used not only to test for covid but for other infectious diseases. We can’t reveal too much about it as it’s early days and won’t go to market for around two years. This project is exactly what we’re about – helping to create products that can identify and diagnose illness early, and keep people out of hospital.

Why did you choose to start your business at the Maidstone Innovation Centre (MIC)?

I’d been looking at the MIC for the last couple of years. I’d seen a lot of other premises in different locations and they just don’t live up to it. It’s ideal for a medical start-up like ours. With the kind of work we’re involved in, we could have moved to factory premises but we really wanted somewhere with an impressive, professional image – our clients think it’s fantastic!


It’s just perfect for what we do – even little details, like the light is just right for doing small, intricate electronics work. It’s got plenty of meeting rooms which we use regularly, it’s bright and clean – and everything you need such as printing, stationery, heating, is all taken care of by Sophie and Marina on-site. They even help us with organising catering for client meetings. Also, everything is covered by our rent so we don’t have to worry about separate charges or additional bills. We can just focus on our work.

What advice would you give to other start-ups?

My first bit of advice is that you need a dedicated team and you need to be very focused yourself. Get your first customer or product idea as soon as you can and that will drive you.


Secondly, I’d say culture is really important. In my first company, ITL, which had over 100 members of staff, I always made the effort to look after people. Just taking the time to say good morning, asking if they needed help and checking on their wellbeing, makes all the difference. Don’t put onerous procedures on your workers – engineers in particular need freedom to come up with ideas and brainstorm. And make sure you have fun; people who enjoy their job, work harder.

Now that I’m working with a team of just four, the culture is exactly the same – we enjoy working together and I don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

What are your ambitions for the company?

My plans are to stay in the Innovation Centre and grow the company – I’d like to eventually take on another couple of units in the building. It would be great if some of our clients were also based here in the future. I’d also like to start our own manufacturing. Overall, I just want to carry on making a difference in the medical industry and for the engineers in my team to keep enjoying what they do.

https://www.xt-biomed.com/

Maidstone Innovation Centre is part funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund 2014 – 2020.

5 mins with…Tom Cole, Managing Director of XT Biomed

Having already built up and sold successful medical device company ITL in 2018, Tom Cole realised the ‘quiet life’ was not for him.

Driven by his desire to help create products that make a difference to people’s lives, he soon found himself looking for another challenge. Spotting a gap in the market, Tom set up XT Biomed, specialising in the design and manufacture of medical and in vitro diagnostic devices.

On 1st February 2022, the brand new company opened its doors for business at the Maidstone Innovation Centre. Here, Tom tells us a bit more about XT Biomed’s work.

Tell us about XT Biomed

We’re a small team of four – mechanical and systems engineer, Tom Haydon, James Knight, head of engineering, my wife, who takes care of the bookkeeping, and me. We design and make diagnostic equipment for infectious diseases. Our clients come to us with ideas and we turn them into high tech products. We work very closely with them – they focus on the chemistry side of the product and we specialise in the hardware and electronics. The design cycle tends to take anything up to two years.

I started the company as I found myself getting itchy feet when I was supposed to be retired. I wanted to make a difference. I realised I got so much job satisfaction out of working in the medical industry – it’s so rewarding to be involved in developing something that could save lives.

Can you give us an example of something you’re working on?

We’re currently working on a disruptive technology that will help non-specialists to diagnose sick people quicker. It’s a ‘platform’ piece of technology intended to be used not only to test for covid but for other infectious diseases. We can’t reveal too much about it as it’s early days and won’t go to market for around two years. This project is exactly what we’re about – helping to create products that can identify and diagnose illness early, and keep people out of hospital.

Why did you choose to start your business at the Maidstone Innovation Centre (MIC)?

I’d been looking at the MIC for the last couple of years. I’d seen a lot of other premises in different locations and they just don’t live up to it. It’s ideal for a medical start-up like ours. With the kind of work we’re involved in, we could have moved to factory premises but we really wanted somewhere with an impressive, professional image – our clients think it’s fantastic!


It’s just perfect for what we do – even little details, like the light is just right for doing small, intricate electronics work. It’s got plenty of meeting rooms which we use regularly, it’s bright and clean – and everything you need such as printing, stationery, heating, is all taken care of by Sophie and Marina on-site. They even help us with organising catering for client meetings. Also, everything is covered by our rent so we don’t have to worry about separate charges or additional bills. We can just focus on our work.

What advice would you give to other start-ups?

My first bit of advice is that you need a dedicated team and you need to be very focused yourself. Get your first customer or product idea as soon as you can and that will drive you.


Secondly, I’d say culture is really important. In my first company, ITL, which had over 100 members of staff, I always made the effort to look after people. Just taking the time to say good morning, asking if they needed help and checking on their wellbeing, makes all the difference. Don’t put onerous procedures on your workers – engineers in particular need freedom to come up with ideas and brainstorm. And make sure you have fun; people who enjoy their job, work harder.

Now that I’m working with a team of just four, the culture is exactly the same – we enjoy working together and I don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

What are your ambitions for the company?

My plans are to stay in the Innovation Centre and grow the company – I’d like to eventually take on another couple of units in the building. It would be great if some of our clients were also based here in the future. I’d also like to start our own manufacturing. Overall, I just want to carry on making a difference in the medical industry and for the engineers in my team to keep enjoying what they do.

https://www.xt-biomed.com/

Maidstone Innovation Centre is part funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund 2014 – 2020.

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