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Week 12 – Business as Usual?

Hope you are all doing well. I know this is a trying time and there is a sense of unknown and uneasiness in the air. We do not take it lightly, especially when you have some knowledge of how viruses can spread and be a challenge to contain. As a small business, it is a challenge and something that will keep me up at night since you do not know how long this new norm will persist. That being said, we are one of the fortunate companies to have some funding available in the short term to keep the business moving forward. So many companies in our town and all across the US are not so fortunate. It affects our family and friends as well as total strangers. Our heart breaks for the people that are dealing with this tragedy. We, like so many others, are trying to do little things like ordering take out from our local restaurants, donating to our local food pantry, and buying from local vendors when possible, all while trying to follow CDC guidance related to social distancing and washing hands. The acts of good will that people do in times of trouble reaffirm that most people are good at heart and want to help. Making sure our team (our extended family) is as safe as possible and does not have to worry about anything but taking care of themselves is our top priority.

Being in medical device development, we always talk about the process of de-risking. What this means is that you try to think about all of the ways that your device can fail and then using this knowledge, you try to make sure that you provide solutions to prevent these issues from occurring. This de-risking process is what is currently being put into place for dealing with the coronavirus. Many possible scenarios for how the virus can spread are thought of and experts look to provide solutions as to how to reduce this spread such as social distancing, washing your hands, preventing large gatherings, cleaning surfaces and quarantining when feeling ill. We also undertake this same process as a business. We try to determine how we can de-risk while keeping the company moving forward along with protecting our team. Areas that we needed to assess were: 1) could we provide enough space between everyone if they come in, 2) could we protect our most vulnerable members of the team, 3) assess how are they traveling to us (i.e. public transportation versus car), 4) could we limit people from outside of the business from coming in, 5) could we implement a decontaminating process, and 6) could we implement a policy to conduct some of our work outside of the company. These are just a few of the questions we asked ourselves and discussed with the team. Like many other companies, our policy is continuing to evolve. This policy is based on the belief that we can continue to conduct some business while controlling the risks to our team as much as possible. Hopefully, we will be able to continue this plan. Similar to what is going on with the outside world, we will continue to assess our plan and make changes as needed.

I know all you are hearing about is the coronavirus so I would like to provide you some good news, in spite of all that is going on around us. We continued to advance technology that we are developing with Takeda. Data from this research program was used in submission of two provisional patents with Takeda. We are excited that the results from these studies warranted patent protection. We have one other research area that we may also submit for patent protection. We can begin to share some of the data generated from these programs over the next few weeks. Takeda will begin to internally review this data, with the goal of determining if they are interested in further development. There are other applications within Takeda that this technology could be used. We are hoping that they decide to continue this partnership based on the positive data generated. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Takeda.

This week also saw us continue discussions with two potential strategic partners in unrelated programs. One potential partner would work with us on our cell culture insert plate program that we are developing for the National Institutes of Health and one related to cosmetics applications (yes, cosmetics). Hopefully, we will be able to share more information about these potential partners if we are able to execute these partnerships. We also made progress on several fronts in terms of electrospinning new materials, new prototype devices as well as incorporating new processes. Our team is truly unbelievable and we could not be prouder of how they are dedicated to our work in spite of what is going on.

Looking forward to trying to going back to some form of normalcy over the upcoming weeks. I believe this is going to take some time. Meanwhile, please stay safe and try to protect yourself as much as possible!



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