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Week 25 – “Piloting” into the Future

I am extremely excited about progress we made this week. While the blog title may make you think I did some travelling (well, I did do some local travel), most of the progress was centered around getting our new clean space set up to begin pilot manufacturing. This is a big step in the potential growth of the company. This one has been a while in the making, requiring us to think not just about designing/making cool new prototype devices but also the process to produce the final product. It’s a little scary to take that next step not knowing how it is going to turn out. It is a lot of responsibility and pressure because decisions we make do not just effect Tina and me. They affect our whole group and I want to make every right decision. It is pretty close to impossible to make all the right calls. So many things factor into success, with having a great group of friends and colleagues who have your back and provide some guidance to having some luck sprinkled in. Tina and I have always believed in taking calculated risks, meaning that the risk has some shot of succeeding. We are not the typical business folks who believe in jumping in feet first and trying to swim. For us, our fear in taking this next step is tempered by the company receiving the NIH contract to produce cell culture insert plates along with other groups who have recently expressed interest in our manufacturing capabilities.

Getting the pilot manufacturing area set up was more physical than our typical days in the lab. I have always had a healthy respect for people who work in physical jobs (I come from a blue-collar family). Prior to getting the partitions and benches in (both of which we had to build with no directions), we had to get the walls prepared by filing holes and painting. You could be thinking why don’t we just hire someone to do these things. As a small business, you are always trying to conserve funds for other more important things. After heading back from Boston in the afternoon after retrieving our fourth 90-day NuSpun™ Vascular graft from our preclinical model (another successful graft that had blood flowing through it- yes!), I knew we needed to get the room ready for the furniture/walls that were going to be delivered. I decided to serve as the contractor for the job, which I started at around 5pm. As I started to paint, it just struck me that I am a crazy entrepreneur. I once had someone seriously tell me that I worked “banker’s hours.” For those of you who know me, that could not be further from the truth. Never have and likely never will. I decided to send a selfie (I only take these when Tina is in the picture) to Tina to let her know what I was up to. Needless to say, three hours later and after touching up paint all over the company, I had finished (came out pretty good too). This is our baby and you want it look the best for big things to come (hopefully). The whole group was involved with putting together the room. It is so awesome to have a great team. The room looks so good. By the end of the week, I was channeling Sargent Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon when he said “I’m getting to old for this sh$t!”

This week also saw us meet with our investors to discuss setting up the pilot manufacturing and progress on our graft. We are so fortunate to have a great group of people who are supportive and are willing to provide their input about areas that we could use their expertise and experience. The meeting was very productive, with the group providing input on several areas that we were looking for guidance. We are making progress on several fronts to move the technology forward and I was excited to share that information with them. As I always say, we’ll see where it goes but it does look promising. Even after this meeting, the pitch deck preparation extravaganza still continued into this week. It seems like everywhere I turn; another deck is required. It is a necessary evil so excuse the ranting. Using these decks have resulted in generating interest in the technology so I’ll keep preparing them as long as this continues. Next week brings more presentations, including one to a potential strategic partner in Washington, DC. Excited to see where this goes!

Last but certainly not least. we are also plowing forward on the research front. We continue to produce materials for the NIH for both ongoing research as well as for the cell culture insert plate work. We are bringing on equipment that will be used for this program. Additionally, we continue our work on devices for Takeda as all three programs move forward. Some of these products will soon be produced in our clean area so you can see why getting this area installed is so important. More coming on the research results in the weeks ahead.

Hope you have a great weekend!


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