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Week 9 – Building a Business – Revisionist Edition

Hope all is going well. I know it is cliché to say that the summer always seems to fly by so fast but every year I find myself trying to figure out how it is already September. I feel like I just wrote the May blog welcoming in summer and now we are about to escort it out the door. Most summers have a period where things slow down a little, which is typically August as people look to get their vacations in before the weather turns cooler. BioSurfaces seems to be consistently busy even during the summer. It is hard to believe that our interns, Jake Pierson and Liz Labbe, have already completed their 11 weeks of training and have headed back to college to complete their senior years. It is always gratifying to see how our interns come into our company having limited research experience and leave looking more confident along with adding some new skills to their tool belt. They quickly become part of the team and before you know it, they have to leave. We have been fortunate over the years to have had some excellent interns, with all of them going on to do some great things with their careers. We’ve also been able to bring some of them on as part of our team. Jake and Liz continue this fine tradition of interns and we know that they’ll do great things in the future.

We are happy to announce that we are hosting our first webinar focused on next generation solutions for benchtop tissue models ( Our own Dr. Patrick Hayden will be presenting his research on this topic. We hope you can join us for this free event. We are going to also record it so if you register and cannot attend, we can send it to you. Please also share this link with others in your network as we are looking to have a nice turnout. We also recently announced the beginning of our collaboration with Finnadvance (, which incorporates our Bio-Spun™ scaffold into their Akita platform to allow fluid flow across our scaffold. Be on the lookout for more announcements coming soon.

The title of this week’s blog gives you an idea of where my mindset (as well as our business team’s mindset) has been over the past year, which is focused on building the business. When Tina and I first started the business over 20 years ago, we envisioned developing a new artificial artery (graft) that would one day help people. We understood that this would require significant time (several years at the earliest before testing in people) and funding to accomplish this mission. We knew that getting some grant funding would help move the technology forward but we would need to bring outside funding or partners in to really move the graft toward people.

We were able to execute the first part of our plan, securing grants to bring the technology through preclinical assessment. We were excited (and still are) about the data we generated. We were even able to secure additional grant funding to expand our technology platform for several different devices. The second part of our plan was not as successful. It was not due to a lack of effort on our part, an effort that still continues to this day. This part of the plan had us relying on getting either outside venture capital or strategic partners to help us drive these devices across the finish line. Finding the right groups was like finding a needle in a haystack since we didn’t have these connections. I am a just a lowly scientist that did not have the business connections that are needed to complete the second phase. I thought, naively, that our science would speaks for itself and that people would be beating down the door to help people. I didn’t know that either the device had to be in the package and ready to sell or that the market had to be in the billions to garner attention. Even though these routes continue to be explored, it will take a lot to overcome these forces. I still believe that people who have a family history of a specific disease and have financial means could help to advance this through funding the development.

Over the past 6 years, these pitfalls forced us to reassess how we can advance our technology. We have an outstanding platform but getting the funds using the process we originally started with is a recipe for disaster. What we started to do is look at opportunities where we could move our technology in specific areas that would allow us to control more of our own destiny, similar to applying for grants and contracts. We began by listening to our customers, our peers and collaborators to see what their needs were related to our Bio-Spun™ scaffolds. We also sought to find products that would not take years to develop and that we could generate revenue fairly quick as compared to medical devices. We also realized that generating revenue may allow us to advance some of our own applications. This led us to begin our in vitro research tools (IVRT) business.

Brick by brick, we have begun to expand our customer base with minimal marketing. As we’ve expanded our marketing and submitted our science for presentation, interest has continued to expand. This has led us from non-flow IVRT products into flow IVRT products along with other applications. We also have two large global companies that are working with us to expedite growth of these products. Decisions by these behemoths can sometimes be like waiting for water to boil. For those of you who know me, this is not how I operate. I like to move things along since there is a large opportunity in this space as more companies need to move away from animal testing and our scaffold provides them with an excellent option. Some decisions are either being risk-averse or being a high-stakes gamble. There does not seem to be an in-between. That being said, this pathway seems to provide us the best possible option for success. We look forward to seeing where this plan takes us. Hopefully, it will work as we hope it will.

I hope that our US readers have an excellent Labor Day weekend celebration. We plan on having several announcements coming out in September so please continue to follow our social medias each week this month. One of these announcements we’ve been looking forward to making for a couple of months now. This is how much time some of the areas we are working in are taking to come to fruition. It would welcome a time where something gets completed faster than at a slow crawl. One can only dream!



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