Now in its third year, the Innovation Zone at the BIO 2016 International Convention (San Francisco, June 6-9) will host even more pioneering and transformational companies. The Innovation Zone was created through a partnership with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the intent to group Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)-funded companies together on the exhibit floor of the BIO International Convention. The partnership originated in 2014 with 35 companies; it grew to 75 companies in 2015 and this year it will host 100 companies.
The SBIR program provides U.S. federal funding to small businesses engaged in research and development with the potential for commercialization. Companies are rigorously vetted through the NIH and NSF SBIR review process prior to receiving the funding.
Today we spoke with Innovation Zone exhibitor, Dr. Ellen Brune, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Boston Mountain Biotech which is supported by NSF’s SBIR program.
BTN: What is your company’s lead product or technology?
Despite major advancements in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, protein purification remains one of the most costly and restrictive aspects of production that negatively impacts start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike. At BMB, we are developing the Lotus® platform to link downstream contaminants to potential upstream cell line modifications. The Lotus® platform seeks to directly tackle this challenge by developing a platform to identify the cellular proteins that exert the greatest burden on downstream processing, and then shut off these genes in the production strain. The Lotus® platform can be readily implemented across much of the bio-manufacturing industry, with the benefit of reducing costs to healthcare consumers and easing the time and investment required to bring new therapeutics to market.
BTN: How has the NSF SBIR program helped your company grow?
The NSF provided the initial grant that allowed the fundamental research behind the Lotus® platform. That research led to commercialization training through the I-Corps program and now commercialization support through the SBIR program. Their support has been critical to advancing our technology from a laboratory idea into a viable commercial prototype. Furthermore, the Lean-Startup training helped insure that we were listening to our customers and building a product that addressed their needs. This mindset challenged us to have a bigger vision, to align with key industry leaders and seek out collaborative partners such as our STTR partner NC State University.
BTN: What are the upcoming milestones and long-term priorities for your company?
Our next milestone is to have an NSF Phase II award which will allow us to continue the development of the Lotus platform. Our intermediate and long term focus is to begin testing the Lotus platform at a larger manufacturing scale through strategic partnerships with a CMO with the end result being the ability to test produce a target pharmaceutical product.
BTN: What do you hope to gain out of your participation at the 2016 BIO International Convention?
Our primary goal of attending the 2016 BIO Convention is to identify a CMO partner to work with us for our Phase II scale-up work and explore how our Lotus® platform can streamline their protein purification process, saving both them and their customers time and money.