Tormod Thomsen

“I like to build and create things, I like that things are happening, and I like the ability to make swift decisions and see the results of our work.“

Tormod Thomsen

CEO, Cimon Medical

Previous postition:
CEO, Firmenich Bjørge biomarin AS

Thomsen, CEO of NTNU spin-off Cimon Medical, is a serial entrepreneur specializing in the commercialization of research results within the health domain.

Originally, he is a psychologist having av Phd in cognitive neuroscience. He has experience as an entrepreneur and CEO of the research based startup Nordic Neuro Lab, but also as the R&D manager of Møre and Romsdal Hostpial Trust. Later he has served as a CEO of both PatoGen Analyse AS and multinational Firmenich Bjørge Biomarin.

A word with Tormod

First of all, what is Cimon Medical and what challenge do you address?
Cimon Medical develops and manufactures novel Doppler ultrasound technology for healthcare and aim to become the market leader in continuous direct monitoring of blood-flow. Our first product will be NeoDoppler which is non-invasive and can monitor the blood flow in the brain or premature or critical ill infants. Our disruptive technology platform is scalable with many potential applications.

What made you jump into a startup after working in several large organizations in attractive positions?
I thought the technology and its potential applications seemed interesting and could immediately see the great potential and scalability. The possibility to build something big that would have impact on people’s lives triggered me. Working with products that have impact and purpose are important. I have never been overly concerned about safety and a permanent position in a large corporation was not important for me. I like building things, so the choice was easy.

Why NTNU and NTNU Technology Transfer?
The fact that this technology came from a well-known and world leading research group on ultrasound at NTNU and was tested together with clinicians at St Olavs Hospital was important. I got to visit and talk to these people and see their lab and that convinced me. Having verified results from applied research is also very important to get medical equipment approved. I got access to both the researcher and clinicians. NTNU Technology Transfer had really done an excellent job before recruiting me and the rest of the team. A strong patent portfolio was developed, large research projects were secured to do clinical trials and prototypes were developed for use in the clinical trials. Overall these three factors were essential for accelerating the early stage of the company and giving me a flying start.

Why would you recommend to others to become an NTNU Entrepreneur in Residence?
It is a notable risk to leave a management position in a large corporation and become an entrepreneur since many of the research-based companies do not survive. The involvement of NTNU Technology Transfer and their standard process of evaluating and developing a technology reduces this risk.

This qualifies the technology in a solid way and provides you with predictable terms and agreements, so you do not need to spend time and energy on this.

Any key experiences from your previous jobs you want to share?
Many startups seem to get better at writing applications for research grants and other soft funding than finishing a product and get it out in the marketplace. This is one of the greatest pitfalls for research-based startups. It is important to have enough financing to be able to think and work long term in a startup. Spending all your time raising money and bootstrapping is very time consuming and makes it hard to focus on the product and the market.

My experience is also that having an interdisciplinary team that respect each other’s competence and roles are important.

What is your passion?
My main motivation is to develop a product that can have impact in the treatment of infants and critically ill children all over the world. I also like to build something and to see the results of my actions right away like you do in a start-up.

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