Leiden startup Levels develops rapid test to reduce use of antibiotics

9 augustus 2021 16:15

Since the invention of the antibiotic, many human lives have been saved, but resistance to the medication still remains. Through frequent and careless use, the drug can adapt in such a way that it no longer has any effect. The rapid test from startup Levels Diagnostics helps reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Leidse startup ontwikkelt sneltest om antibioticagebruik te verminderen

Coen Breedveld, one of the founders of Levels Diagnostics, explains: "We developed a test that distinguishes between viral and bacterial respiratory infections. Doctors can use the test to establish whether antibiotics need to be prescribed. It can also prevent patients from developing symptoms."

Research in Nairobi

Levels Diagnostics was founded in 2017 by four enthusiastic, ambitious entrepreneurs with backgrounds in chemistry, immunology and (molecular) biology. The company began by setting up clinical trials in order to diagnose bacterial infections.

Breedveld: “In developing countries the impact of our test is even bigger than here in the Netherlands. That’s why we wanted to discover this market.” The corporate social responsibility programme from German farmaceutical company offered a chance. In 2019, the team travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the use of antibiotics and increased resistance. Since then, the team has expanded its activities to include the diagnosis and monitoring of liver diseases.


Levels Diagnostics' big dream is to bring this test onto the market. "With an average development time of between 5 and 10 years, we have a long road ahead of us, but it’s a great end goal. We also dream of building Levels Diagnostics into a scale-up with a pipeline of Research and Development projects in various areas of diagnostics development."

Starters loan

Rabobank has worked with Levels Diagnostics from a very early stage. "This loan has enabled our initial experiments and great results. Rabobank stands out as a bank for startups in and around Leiden. By providing a starters loan, an active account manager and involvement in PLNT, the Leiden Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Rabobank offers you all the help you need in terms of funding, networking and knowledge." And a final lesson for other starting innovators? “Fail fast,” Breedveld says. As a starting entrepeneur you’re still very agile and eager to learn. Take advantage of it by testing and failing a lot.”