Since its founding, CactuX focused on transferring new technologies in the field of CT from research to industry. In 2021, the second product line – Calibration Phantoms was introduced. 

In this interview, we are taking a closer look at the technology from the original ideas behind the research until its market introduction. To do so, Jakub Šalplachta, our current CEO and the founder of Phantoms in CactuX, is talking about CT technology development, which leads to this product, his role and CactuX itself.

Before joining CactuX, your professional career focused on Industrial CT development. What brought you to this field?

I chose a topic for my bachelor’s thesis in medical CT during my studies. Part of the development in this field is focused on data processing. The doctors are manually checking the CT/X-rays scans to determine the diagnosis. In my thesis, I was finding ways to automate some of the tasks they need to perform to make the diagnosis faster and more accurate. I found the research exciting and continued during my master’s studies. As I have been looking in the field of CT for quite some time already, I got more curious about the other technology applications. 

In 2016, I started collaborating with the CT research facility in Brno (CT Lab CEITEC at Brno University of Technology). Here, I got involved in ongoing research in high-resolution CT technology. This field fascinated me since it dealt with imaging great details in sizes below micrometres. I decided to continue, and pushing the limits of high-resolution CT technology became the focus of my doctoral research.


So, is, according to you, the most fascinating aspect of this technology?

High-resolution CT is like having sharp vision, allowing us to observe tiny details of internal structures in 3D. It opens up limitless possibilities for understanding and applying the information. It was also fascinating since it’s still pretty new, so there’s a ton of potential for more discoveries and research.


What, specifically, was your job in this field?

Since starting at CT Lab, I worked with a Japanese company, Rigaku, which manufactures high-resolution CT scanners. My main focus was developing ways to improve the quality of images these scanners make. Many factors influence the quality of CT images in such high details (below micrometre size), including any minor misalignment in the process. 

This got me into the world of CT Calibration Phantoms, which are special tools we started to develop to make sure the scanners are working perfectly. Additionally, I had a chance to demonstrate the capabilities of these CT scanners to potential customers. Doing this helped me understand how valuable the technology is and what customers need to get out of it.


Your calibration Phantoms was also why your path crossed with CactuX. How did this journey start, and was it developing for you?

From the feedback of industrial customers I met, it became apparent that the Phantoms we developed are something the market needs to include.

CactuX allowed me to transfer these prototypes into products that could be offered to the CT market. This was a new challenge for me, ensuring the actual product development, leading the market access and all business aspects. With the support of experienced colleagues and financing, we were able to launch the Phantoms product line in the CactuX portfolio, including three different types of Phantoms. We followed by building the global customers and distributors network.

What was the feedback from the market? What do you find this product’s most significant value for your customers?

While introducing the products to the market, we had to come up with clear explanations of the added value since it is a new and unknown technology. We experienced the actual product demonstrations as the most effective way to present its selling points. 

I want to highlight our R1-Shadow, a unique holder for samples specifically. It’s explicitly designed to tackle the challenges of high-resolution CT scanners. Right now, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. The only exceptions are complicated computational and sample preparation methods. The cool part about our product is that it is easy to use and saves the customers tons of time in sample preparation. It also opens up new possibilities for better understanding data by improving its quality.

“It is explicitly designed to tackle the challenges of high-resolution CT scanners. Right now, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. “

What was the most challenging part of launching and managing this product for you?

The most challenging part for me was the marketing of the technology. Since it was a completely new approach, we were the first in the market to start explaining the challenges and the added value of products. Together with my colleagues from CactuX, we had to develop understandable ways to promote and target our future customers. It’s an ongoing and never-ending process in which we all are learning a lot.


As time progressed, your role in CactuX changed from being responsible for a product line to becoming accountable for the company as the CEO. How do you perceive this development? With what kind of vision did you step into this role?

I am glad this role came to me through step-by-step development, both my personal and the company’s. We were internally searching for the company’s most seamlessly working internal structure, which involved not only taking on predefined roles but also creating and defining the roles. Now, I am excited to make the most out of my part.

My main focus is to execute our shared vision of creating innovative and high-quality solutions with a clear focus on the market’s and our customers’ needs. I want to see CactuX evolve into a well-established, global company recognized as a leader in its field.