Far-seeing animal health radiology business spreads its wings

Women in lab next to CT machine

© VetCA

A business that provides telemedicine services to vets around the world has more than doubled its turnover and staff numbers after receiving intensive coaching support through Enterprise Europe Network’s Innovate 2 Succeed programme.

 

VetCT, based at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge, now employs 60 veterinary radiologists in the UK, Australia and the US, as well as 10 support staff.

 

Innovate 2 Succeed focused particularly on recruiting a management team that could help the founders achieve their ambitions for international growth.

 

Victoria Johnson had set up the company eight years ago with her husband and fellow radiologist, Julien Labruyère.

 

Imaging technologies

 

They had spotted an opportunity to provide better diagnosis for clinics and specialist vets through imaging technologies, not just digital X-rays but CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans too.

 

It means that an imaging examination of a canine patient in the outback of Australia can be examined by an expert in the UK, almost in real time.

 

“It’s all about making animals better – through better diagnosis,” said Victoria.

 

VetCT is now the market leader in Europe and is expanding into the US from a foothold in Orlando, Florida. More growth is expected from a venture into the equine market and a pioneering 3D printing process that produces true-size or scaled models from CT scans.

 

Turnover doubled

 

These highly accurate models support a range of clinical uses, such as planning complex orthopaedic procedures or cancer treatments.

 

Vet-CT doubled turnover to £2.8 million in the financial year just ended and Victoria expects that to rise to around £3.8 million in the coming year. “We think the equine market will be a big growth area,” Victoria added.

 

Building a management team

 

“Innovate 2 Succeed helped us to identify key people that we needed, so we’ve appointed an HR manager, a client relationship manager and now a global operations director.

 

“EEN support allowed us really build our management team and to think: how are we going to build a management team to make the next big leap? We found it invaluable.”

 

Radiologist numbers – employed full-time and part-time – have also doubled since the first involvement with EEN. The support team has grown from 3 to 10, with two support staff now located in Australia.  

 

All this has been achieved while bringing up children, now aged 5 years and 6 months. The family’s only pet is a low-maintenance tortoise.

 

“Home and family life keeps us grounded,” said Victoria. “We set out to create a business that gave us the ability to work anywhere, on a project we believed in. We’re now the only company of our kind in Europe.”

It was absolutely excellent. We’d had various coaches and mentors over the years but Kirsten Masson, EEN’s Development Manager, has been by far the most useful person we’ve come across.

We had targets, created an orbit plan with business goals and then looked at what obstacles might get in the way and how to overcome them, with SWOT analyses too.

Victoria Johnson, VetCT