The head of a Central Saanich company ranking among the global leaders in medical imaging technology said its recent acquisition by Canon will not only benefit shareholders, but raise the region’s reputation in the high-tech world.
“Victoria has been a little bit off the radar, but people who are engaged in the local tech community are aware there is a plethora of sub 50-person companies,” said Redlen Technologies president/CEO Glenn Bindley.
“(Over) time that ecosystem just continues to grow and you start to get the larger companies starting to poke their heads above water and have more international visibility. So the nature of the technology we are developing and the impact we have will certainly bring quite a bit more visibility to the region.”
Bindley’s comments followed an announcement that Canon – already a 15-per-cent shareholder – acquired the remaining 85 per cent for $341 million. Plans call for the deal to close Sept. 28.
“This deal is a very good deal for our current shareholder base,” Bindley said. “We have got people, who invested in this company 20 years ago and frankly, we have had people who invested so long, their shares are owned by their estates.”
Looking ahead, he believes the company can grow to a point of generating $1 billion in revenues by 2030. “This will be a very, very good investment for Canon, as it has been a good outcome for our shareholders. Canon is a company with fairly long time horizons and that is an attractive thing for us.”
According to Chris Erickson, general partner with investment fund Pangaea Ventures, Redlen is one of only three companies of its kind worldwide and is poised to revolutionize medical imaging – specifically, CT scanning.
Redlen possesses technology for development and production of cadmium zinc telluride semiconductor detector modules, which are used in diagnostic imaging systems, security systems and other devices, according to Pangaea Ventures.
“The automobile is undergoing a major change from internal combustion to electrification, and we are seeing a similar transition in CT, where the fundamental underlying technology is changing,” Bindley said.
The current technology underpinning CT scanning has run its course, he said, adding that Redlen has been working for more than 10 years to bring this technology into use.
“It’s going to really impact millions of patients globally and give them better outcomes. It’s the equivalent of going from a one-megapixel black-and-white photographic sensor to a 10-megapixel colour sensor.”
The company is working with six of the seven largest builders of CT scanners, with one trial currently underway in France and another scheduled for Japan next year, Bindley said.
“I’m expecting that the cameras will be in hospitals used in a standard operational setting probably in or around 2024-25,” he said.
Redlen plans to expand between now and then. While the company currently employs 200-plus people, plans through 2026 envision a staff of 450 people. “(Canon) fully endorses that plan, they are intimately aware of it,” Bindley said. He added that Canon had been an investor for three years before the recent purchase.
The expansion plan raises a question: from where is this work force going to come?
Bindley said the company aims to have a “more aggressive engagement” with the University of Victoria to help develop some of the talent the company needs. “This is not a short-term blip, but an ongoing need.”
The company also looks to recruit workers from abroad. “We have about 20 PhDs and they are probably from 10 different countries. And being here is an advantage,” Bindley said. “It’s an attractive place from a lifestyle perspective to be able to recruit people. It has been an asset for us, frankly.”
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