Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship’
Two years after the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences set up a gateway to China, the Research Triangle Park research institute is adding a Chinese company to its collaborators.
Ascletis will establish its U.S. research and development operations on the Hamner campus. Other operations of the company will be in the National High Tech Industry Development Zone in Hangzhou, a city about two hours southwest of Shanghai.
Founded this year by Jinzi Wu, former head of global HIV drug discovery at GlaxoSmithKline in RTP, and Jinxing Qi, a Chinese real estate investor and chairman of the Hangzhou Binjiang Real Estate Group, Ascletis has $100 million in commitments from U.S. and Chinese angel investors. The company plans to establish a global therapeutics business that targets cancer and infectious diseases.
Allan Baxter, former global head of medicines development at GSK, will lead Ascletis’ discovery and development strategy as chief strategy officer.
According to its Web site, the company aims to buy the rights to new treatments, develop them and introduce them to the growing Chinese pharmaceutical market.
Projected to generate about $60 billion in sales this year, the Chinese pharmaceutical market is increasing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent, according to a report by strategic consulting firm The Monitor Group. By 2015, Monitor advisors expect China to rank second in market size to the U.S. and ahead of Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Incidence and mortality rates for lung, stomach, liver and breast cancers are comparable or higher in China than in the U.S., the Monitor report pointed out. But competition among pharmaceutical companies is high in China. Nearly all multinationals and numerous local firms are jostling for market shares.
Also, health insurance coverage in China is improving rapidly. In the past two years, the Chinese government invested more than $160 billion in healthcare reform.
Bill Greenlee, the Hamner’s chief executive, and Wu, chief executive of Ascletis, signed the joint venture July 16 at the U.S.-China Governors Forum in Salt Lake City. At the same forum, N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue and Zhao Hongzhu, the party secretary of the province to which Hangzhou belongs, signed an agreement to foster business and economic development between North Carolina and Zhejiang Province through commercial interactions.
Forget about the Bay Area and Boston. North Carolina’s Research Triangle, anchor of the third largest U.S. biotech hub, needs to look beyond continental shores if it wants to measure itself against some of the most innovative regions in the world. In China, India and Brazil, emerging biotech industries are stirring restlessly.
This came across so loud and clear at BIO 2011, the international biotechnology convention that from June 27 to June 30 brought companies, economic development recruiters, lobbyists and analysts from across the world to Washington, D.C., the message took on a measure of self-evidence.
The annual state-of-the-industry report, which Ernst & Young presented at the convention, provided supporting numbers:
- $61 billion, China’s drug market, which ranked second behind the U.S. last year and is projected to double in size by 2015.
- $1.8 billion, Brazil’s share of global investments in biofuel production last year. The U.S. ranked second and Europe was third.
- 70 percent to 75 percent, developing countries’ projected share of worldwide deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes in 2020.
- 25 percent, amount by which research and development investments in U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia decreased in the past two years.
What is happening, commentator and book author Fareed Zakariah said, is that “the landscape of innovation is shifting around the world.” Zakariah moderated a panel discussion with experts from India, Malaysia and China at BIO to explore the situation in those countries. Hundreds of BIO attendees came to listen.
To set the stage, Zakariah explained how the U.S. became the nation that sent the first man to the moon, developed vaccinations for childhood diseases such as polio and invented the personal computer.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Germany was the most innovative country, he said. During and after World War II, some of the brightest and most talented German scientists, many of them Jews, were part of a mass exodus that headed for the U.S.
“The U.S. benefited enormously from this inflow of talent,” Zakariah said.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened America’s gates to a similar mass inflow of talent from Asia. Buoyed by generous funding of basic sciences, nascent companies and public university systems during the Cold War, the U.S. became a worldwide dominating innovation power. But in the 1980s, the rest of the world started to catch up, Zakariah said. Economies developed, incomes and living standards rose – first in Japan, then in Singapore, Hongkong, South Korea and Taiwan, also known as the four Asian tigers, and most recently in India and China.
In the U.S., the housing market collapsed and the banking industry faltered. Research and development jobs started to move to low-cost countries, where many U.S. manufacturing jobs had already gone. Rising incomes and demand in developing countries convinced companies to pay more attention to consumers there.
“Now we face the question: Where does the U.S. go,” Zakariah said.
Companies like the manufacturer that sells its portable EKG machine in India for a fraction of the price General Electric charges for its EKG machines is driving frugal innovation, said Anula Jayasuriya, an Indian life science investor and a member on Zakariah’s panel.
The Indian manufacturer is considering bringing its portable EKG machine to the U.S., Jayasuriya said.
Health care problems will be solved where the need is biggest, which is in developing countries, said Georg Baeder, Asia life science business leader of the strategic consulting group Monitor and also a member on Zakariah’s panel. And at costs that are customary in developing countries.
The Chinese government is spending about $125 billion to upgrade and stimulate life science research. In India, the government is trying to help early stage companies. In Singapore, the government is expected to invest $12.5 billion on life science research innovation over the next five years, according to the Ernst & Young report.
And about 80,000 researchers and entrepreneurs who left China for a college education in the U.S. and Europe are returning to China, Baeder said.
A score card that Scientific American magazine developed for BIO in concert with the biotech industry’s trade organization showed that China, India, Brazil still have some catching up to do before they become serious challengers to a still dominant U.S. But a ranking of the top 48 countries capable to generate innovation in biotech worldwide, the score card lists Singapore ninth, Malaysia 28th, China 30th, Brazil 42nd, and India 44th.
Editor’s note: North Carolina’s Research Triangle is home to hundreds of young companies. Scientists and entrepreneurs started them to develop technologies and medicines for better detection and treatment of diseases. Some of the companies work on innovations that are the result of research done at one of the area’s universities. Others are outgrowths of established companies. Galaxy Diagnostics, which chases a stealth bacteria that infects pets and their owners, is one of those young companies.
Galaxy Diagnostics is going where few have gone before, to borrow a phrase from the American science fiction franchise Star Trek.
The startup is an outgrowth of work researchers at the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine have done on Bartonella bacteria, pathogens that live in the digestive guts of lice, fleas, biting flies and ticks and are transmitted through the insects’ poop. Cats are particularly prone to harboring Bartonella; about 40 percent of them carry a strain called Bartonella henselae at some time of their lives. That’s why Bartonella infections in humans are best known as cat scratch fever.
Scientists have found signs of Bartonella infection in a 4,000-year-old human tooth from southeastern France. At the time, the pharaohs were building the pyramids in Egypt. But today’s physicians aren’t much better at diagnosing a Bartonella infection than their colleagues were in ancient Egypt.
To track down the elusive bacteria, the NCSU researchers combined lab skills common in the 1950s with 21st century genetic sequencing technology.
In 2009, with little hope of attracting outside investors while the U.S. economy was reeling, the researchers teamed up with a sociologist to launch Galaxy Diagnostics.
Amanda Elam, the sociologist, runs the company. Her title is president, but she calls herself “chief cook and bottle washer.”
To earn her doctorate in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Elam studied entrepreneurship. She taught at the NCSU College of Management last year and she continues to publish papers in her academic specialty. The company has received a state loan and a federal grant totaling about $230,000, but unlike the three lab technicians Galaxy Diagnostics employs, Elam doesn’t get paid for the more than 40 hours she puts in as the company’s president.
“It’s field work,” she said.
As Elam’s assessment of her job suggests, Galaxy Diagnostics is an experiment in more ways than one.
The test that the company has developed promises to detect a Bartonella infection earlier than other tests, before symptoms progress from a low-grade fever and muscle and joint aches to brain seizures, loss of sight, poor coordination and muscle weakness. But Galaxy Diagnostics also straddles human medicine and veterinary medicine, two health care disciplines that have more in common than most people think.
Animal pathogens can adapt and cause new diseases in humans. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, bird flu and swine flu are among the most recent examples. All three diseases emerged in the past decade after viruses jumped from animals to humans.
The quicker viruses and bacteria multiply, the faster the infection develops. Two E.coli can form a colony of hundreds of bacteria in just a few hours. Bartonella bacteria double in numbers just once every 24 hours and infections can take years to develop.
Left to multiply, Bartonella bacteria infect red blood cells and the cells lining blood vessels and they manage to hide where the body’s immune defenses cannot detect them. That’s why tests looking for immune system antibodies to Bartonella bacteria often produce false negative results.
Galaxy Diagnostics goes after the bacteria themselves. The company uses a patented enrichment media in which even small numbers of Bartonella grow in a bottle. Genetic fingerprinting follows to positively identify the bacteria. A multi-drug antibiotic treatment usually gets rid of the bacteria.
More than 250 veterinarians in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil have already sent Galaxy Diagnostics blood, tissue or fluid samples from pets that the company has tested for Bartonella bacteria.
In the past three to four years, a research lab at the NCSU vet school has run more than 800 human blood samples through Galaxy Diagnostics’ testing process. The samples came from patients suffering from symptoms their physicians couldn’t allocate to a disease. About 28 percent of the samples were positive for a Bartonella infection, Elam said.
By the end of the summer, Galaxy Diagnostics expects to be able to test human samples at its new lab in the Alexandria Innovation Center at a cost of about $600 to $800 per patient.
Innovation capital, money to turn some of today’s most innovative discoveries into tomorrow’s medical treatments, is getting so scarce in the U.S., politicians, economic developers and entrepreneurs in regions specializing in early stage biotech research and development are scrambling.
North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the third largest U.S. biotech hub, is one of those regions.
Some of the world’s largest R&D companies have operations in the Triangle, including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Bayer. But the lifeblood of the area has long been young, early stage companies in pursuit of ideas developed at local research universities such as Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University or hatched by researchers who used to work in corporate labs in Research Triangle Park.
A little more than two years after a deregulated U.S. banking industry stumbled in the fall of 2008, investors are increasingly shying away from early stage biotech companies, a high-stakes, high-rewards gamble in the best of times. Innovation capital is drying up in the U.S., according to a 2011 report the U.S. accounting firm Ernst & Young published this month.
One consequence, a Research Triangle venture capital investor said, is “deals are dying on the vine.”
“More and more small, really good startups are having problems finding money,” said Norris Tolson, chief executive of the N.C. Biotechnology Center. “We’re about the only game in town for early stage biotech companies.”
The biotech center, which offers grants and loans up to $250,000, has seen the number of funding requests increase by about 10 percent, Tolson said. In the past year, about 280 applicants asked for financial support. About 130 were approved.
Traditionally, young biotech companies have relied on private investors, often venture capital investors, to kick their R&D into gear.
U.S. biotech companies raised $5.5 billion in venture capital in 2007, about twice as much as in 2000, according to Ernst & Young. But in the past three years, the amount has stagnated at about $4.5 billion annually and venture capitalists have begun to hold money back until companies reach certain milestones.
Total capital raised by biotech companies in the U.S. bounced back to $20.7 billion last year, from about $13 billion in 2008, according to Ernst & Young. But much of that capital went to mature companies. Young, early stage companies, which work on the most innovative technologies and generate more jobs than large, established companies, actually received about 20 percent less in capital than the year before.
In Europe, capital raised was more evenly distributed among startups and mature companies. In Singapore, China and India, governments are ratcheting up efforts to bolster biotech innovation. And in Latin America, Brazil’s already strong agricultural biotechnology sector is gaining attention.
But politicians, economic developers and university administrators in the Research Triangle have come up with ideas to encourage the formation of R&D startups despite the early stage funding crunch
The biotech center teamed up with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a Pasadena, Calif.-based real estate investment trust, to attract young companies working in agricultural biotech research. Alexandria, which already owns lab buildings in the Triangle, will build a $13.5 million business incubator with about 18,000-square-feet of greenhouse space near RTP.
Several universities and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development are working with the charitable arm of the Blackstone Group, a global investment firm, to turn more technologies developed at universities into companies and bolster the Triangle’s existing entrepreneurial network.
The chancellors at UNC-CH and NCSU have set up innovation funds to further support spinoffs.
And state legislators are again considering establishing a nonprofit that can loan young companies money. The legislation has come up twice before and would use about $100 million an out-of-state investor is willing to provide, Tolson said. Initially, only life science companies could benefit, but recently state lawmakers suggested that information technology and green technology companies should also be included.
“There’s a huge need for startup capital across the U.S.,” Tolson said. In North Carolina, “a lot of people are understanding the need.”
Editor’s note: North Carolina’s Research Triangle is home to hundreds of young companies. Scientists and entrepreneurs started them to develop technologies and medicines for better detection and treatment of diseases. Some of the companies work on innovations that are the result of research done at one of the area’s universities. Others are outgrowths of established companies. Vijaya Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company founded in 2009 by a husband-and-wife team, is one of those young companies.
Former GlaxoSmithKline researcher Subba Katamreddy did what came natural to a medicinal chemist who in 2008 got caught at the beginning of U.S. drug research and development cutbacks that have rocked large pharmaceutical companies since then.
Katamreddy started his own drug discovery company, Vijaya Pharmaceuticals, and established a lab in the Park Research Center incubator in Research Triangle Park to explore some ideas he had for next-generation antibacterial and anti-inflammatory treatments.
So far, Katamreddy and his wife, Vijaya, have financed the startup on their own. Katamreddy is about to start making molecules to develop technology that he can patent and use to attract more investors. But funding early stage startups has gotten more difficult this year despite more money being raised.
So, Katamreddy has begun to take in contract work to generate revenue. He’s determined to keep going and hopes to hire a couple of employees in the next three to five years. “Vijaya,” is Telugu, a language that is spoken in the southern Indian region where the Katamreddies are from, and stands for “victory.”
“Whether you’re in a small lab or a big lab,” Katamreddy said, “an idea is an idea.”
He’s had good ideas before. During his seven years at GSK in RTP, Katamreddy was involved in discovering two experimental drugs. His area of research was metabolic diseases such as adult-onset diabetes. Large pharmaceuticals are investing heavily in finding treatments for diabetes and other chronic diseases, because these diseases are on the rise and require ongoing treatment.
Vijaya Pharma is treading were large pharma hasn’t.
The number of antibacterial drugs the Food and Drug Administration approved for sale declined 56 percent from 1983 to 2002, according to an analysis published 2004. Demand for new drugs is rising with the spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria. (More on the problems superbugs are causing here.)
Katamreddy is particularly interested in a group of antibacterials called macrolides. This group includes erythromycin, an antibiotic that is used to treat pneumonia, venereal disease and urinary tract infections.
Cempra Pharmaceuticals, another young drug development company in the Research Triangle, is testing a macrolide in patients. (More on Cempra Pharmaceuticals here.) There’s also some interest in macrolides outside of the U.S. European researchers are studying a macrolide to treat inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. But large pharmaceutical companies hesitate to invest in antibacterial research, because successful drugs are used once and for a short time only.
Katamreddy’s other idea is related to a known anti-inflammatory called curcumin, which is the biologically active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric. Researchers have tested curcumin’s effect on Alzheimer’s patients and cancer cells. Dennis Liotta, a researcher at Emory University, is also studying curcumin as a cancer treatment.
Large pharmaceutical companies have not shown much interest in curcumin, because it can’t be patented and it doesn’t stay in the body long enough. Katamreddy wants to tinker with naturally occurring curcumin, but he’s not ready yet to say how.
A good idea has shelf life. We all know that.
Ideas pop into our heads every day. Only the good ones linger. They survive challenges and reassessment. That’s also true for business ideas, which hold the promise of starting a company, generating income and creating jobs.
But it’s hard to test how good a business idea really is, because honest feedback is difficult to get, said Ron Harman, owner of CTO Outsourcing, a Durham company that provides software expertise to startups.
“Getting people to tell you how great you are is easy,” Harman said. But few friends, relatives or paid consultants aren’t usually willing to probe an idea for flaws that could kill it.
“Nobody wants to tell you bad news,” Harman said.
To fill that gap, he and six other entrepreneurs in North Carolina’s Research Triangle eight months ago founded the RTP Idea Lab. So far, they’ve held three idea vetting sessions at RTP headquarters.
The sessions attract crowds of a few dozen and combine idea pitches, question-and-answer follow-up and critiques. It’s a concept that’s also being tried in other areas where lots of people work in research and development, including Boston, Pasadena, Calif., Austin, Texas, and at universities, but the efforts aren’t mirror images of each other.
Pasadena-based Idealab has created and operated pioneering technology companies since 1996. Bostinnovation is a digital community hub for ideas that have matured into startups. The Business Innovation Factory in Austin, Texas, is a nonprofit that was founded in 2004 to help innovators test ideas before they turn them into startups. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an IDEA Group to develop novel biomedical imaging and analysis tools.
The RTP Idea Lab mainly aims to provide a forum where innovators pitch their business ideas to a group of people who are neither experts nor potential investors. Ideas bandied about have ranged from mining company e-mails to prevent theft of intellectual property to matching up retired executives with startups and nonprofits in need of short-term mentoring.
“Getting into a group and talking about ideas was very attractive,” said Jim Ingram, a technical writer and a RTP Idea Lab board member. At the most recent session in May, Ingram pitched his idea to reconfigure the hierarchy with which computers file information.
“An idea without an interaction with others is just a thought,” Ingram said. ” It dies in the brain if it isn’t talked about.”
The founders of the RTP Idea Lab, most of them local technology entrepreneurs, also want to stimulate the birth of new companies and the creation of jobs in the Triangle. The area’s unemployment rate has come down slightly in the past year, but it remains above 7 percent, according to April state unemployment figures. That compares to 9.5 percent unemployment statewide.
With federal and state budget cuts looming, it’s not likely that the government and public universities, important contributors to the Triangle’s economy, will be of much help. But technology startups are on a roll. Another Internet gold rush is on, stocks are up, investors are eager and startups are sprouting from New York to Durham.
The Triangle offers plenty of services to form a startup and find a home for it. What the area lacked was a place where people with ideas could ask other people, “What do you think?,” and get a honest answer. That’s where the RTP Idea Lab fits in, said Anthony Edwards, board chairman of the RTP Idea Lab.
Edwards is an IT consultant and a founder of Morrisville-based Tavve Software. He’s also involved in RedOak Logic, a Chapel Hill startup that targets the drug development industry but has yet to be funded.
Having RTP Idea Lab sessions “is good for the community, for RTP,” he said. “It encourages people to form companies.”
He wants to add to the feedback sessions and form partnerships with serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors to also provide seed funding.
Editor’s note: North Carolina’s Research Triangle is home to hundreds of young companies. Scientists and entrepreneurs started them to develop technologies and medicines for better detection and treatment of diseases. Some of the companies work on innovations that are the result of research done at one of the area’s universities. Others are outgrowths of established companies. CivaTech Oncology, a startup that’s been around since 2006, employs two full-time and three part-time and is about to launch its first product, is one of those young companies.
Much of the furniture in the about 2,500-square-feet that CivaTech occupies at Park Research Center, a 13-building complex in Research Triangle Park, is second-hand. As the company’s two full-time employees, Suzanne Troxler Babcock and Seth Hoedl have important-sounding titles – Babcock is executive chairwoman and Hoedl is chief science officer – but they rely on a team of part-time employees and consultants.
Like many startups, CivaTech operates on a tight budget. Since its inception, the company has raised about $2 million from private investors, most of them live in the RTP area.
But things are about to change, said Babcock.
“We think we’ll look quite different as an organization by the end of this year,” she said.
CivaTech is looking for a partner to start selling its first product, a next-generation alternative to radioactive seeds that have been used for about 20 years to help reduce tumors in the prostate, breast and cervix.
The Food and Drug Administration has already approved the product, called Civa-String, and Babcock said the first prostate cancer patient is expected to get a Civa-String implant this fall.
That would make the start-up a competitor in a growing market already occupied by some large, publicly traded companies.
Brachytherapy products, which is what the radioactive seeds are, generated $240 million in U.S. sales in 2008, according to a 2009 report by Bio-Tech Systems, a market research firm in the healthcare field. But by 2016, the market is projected to increase to about $2 billion in sales.
Radioactive seeds to treat prostate cancer accounted for about half of the 2008 sales, Bio-Tech Systems reported.
The biggest suppliers of the seeds are C.R. Bard, a New Jersey-based company that is publicly traded and reported $2.7 billion in sales last year; Oncura, a division of General Electric; and Theragenics, an Atlanta-based company with about $80 million in annual revenue.
The radioactive seeds are about the size of rice kernels – cylinders made of titanium and filled with radioactive material, iodine-125 or palladium-103. Worldwide, about 15,000 prostate cancer patients receive the seeds every year.
The radioactive seeds have side effects, frequent bathroom visits and sensitivity to many fruits and other foods. But the biggest problem with the seeds is that they can migrate, Hoedl said. About 120 seeds are implanted in a prostate for a therapeutic dose, he said. If one or two of them migrate, they can end up in the patient’s lung or kidney and do damage.
Civa-Strings shouldn’t migrate. They’re cheaper to make, because they require half the radioactive material to deliver the same therapeutic dose, Hoedl said. They dispense the radiation more uniformly and they’re made with palladium-103, an isotope that works more than three times faster than iodine-125.
The strings are flexible plastic tubes about the thickness of an angelhair spaghetti noodle that are loaded with palladium-103 and gold pellets. Depending on the dose prescribed for each patient, they come in lengths from less than an inch to about 2.5 inches. Radiation oncologists place the loaded strings with the same kind of 8-inch-long needle as the seeds.
Instead of about 120 seeds, a prostate cancer patient would require only 20 to 25 of the strings, Hoedl said.
CivaTech worked with the N.C. State University’s nuclear engineering department to make sure the palladium-103 doesn’t leach out.
If the launch happens as planned, Babcock expected to hire four more full-time employees this year.
Meanwhile, development of the next product, a sheet with palladium-103 loaded strips, continues. The sheet is aimed at shrinking cancers in the lung, colon and esophagus. Last year, CivaTech received $200,000 from the National Institutes of Health to work on the sheet.
Scott Kelly followed a long tradition with Startup Madness, a showcase of entrepreneurship and innovation in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.
Kelly, an investment banker at KeySource Bank who has worked in Internet marketing and sales, recognized the enormous job creation potential of a three-county area dotted with universities – just like economic developers, academics and businessmen did in the 1950s when they established Research Triangle Park on wooded land that was flanked by Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University in Raleigh.
Just like the RTP supporters, Kelly focused on Duke, UNC and NCSU students.
Startup Madness, which took place March 31 on the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham, introduced student entrepreneurs to the Research Triangle’s investor and business community. The goal, Kelly said, was to encourage innovative young minds to stay and to retain the startup businesses that are born here on university campuses.
“We have the universities. We have young talent, possibly more than anybody else,” Kelly said. “It would be a shame if they leave.”
Startup Madness was the third entrepreneurial showcase Kelly has organized in the past year. The first took place in May 2010, three months after the recession pushed North Carolina’s unemployment rate to 11.4 percent. In the Triangle, more than 8 percent of the labor force was out of work at the time.
Considering that about three-fourths of U.S. jobs tend to be in businesses with fewer than 100 employees, Kelly thought that helping student entrepreneurs start companies in the Triangle would be a good idea to address the unemployment rate.
At Startup Madness, three student entrepreneurs, one each from Duke, UNC and NCSU, pitched business ideas. The crowd picked the most popular idea. The winner, Kelly said, would get lunch with local business leaders and venture capital and angel investors.
The pitches were:
- An infrared glove that monitors blood glucose levels in children with Type 1 diabetes continuously. The glove is worn at night and replaces repeated finger pricks, said Kyle Foti, one of eight NCSU undergraduate students working on a prototype. Currently, children with Type 1 diabetes must be woken several times at night and tested to prevent hyperglycemia, which can damage the brain and organs. The glove is not only more accurate, but it would also wake parents and children only when there’s a problem.
- Unfiltered voice messages from professional athletes that fans can receive on their mobile phones. Gridiron Grunts plans to start with messages from NFL football players and then go on to NASCAR drivers, said Jeb Terry, a UNC business student who spent five years playing football professionally. Revenue would come from subscriptions, Terry said.
- Internet discounts on merchandise that local businesses offer college students. After its launch a few weeks ago Sidewalk already had 1,000 users across Internet platforms, said Brian Laker, a Duke business student. The merchants pay Sidewalk a fee for the services.
And the winner was: The infrared glove to prevent hyperglycemia, the first product being developed by Diagnostic Apparel.
A few weeks ago, I reported on water quality expert Kenneth Reckhow’s concern that we will be unable to achieve water quality standards set by states in response to the Clean Water Act. Municipal water treatment plants have been improved “to the limits of technology,” he said, and additional cleanup was going to have to happen with somewhat unlikely changes like limiting development, changing farming practices, and prohibiting lawn fertilizers.
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss the challenges of cleaning wastewater from the perspective of an entrepreneur who has been working with municipalities and industry to improve treatment plant performance. Wayne Flournoy is cofounder and president of Entex Technologies, a Chapel Hill company that designs systems for upgrading wastewater treatment plants or for new plants. Read more…
A year or so ago, Joseph Carr found himself on an elevator with a man wearing a Siemens polo shirt. Having once worked for a division of Siemens, Carr introduced himself as the CEO of Semprius, Inc., a company that makes very high-efficiency solar modules. At the end of a fourteen-floor ascent, the two men exchanged business cards. Within months, Semprius and Siemens announced a joint development agreement.
Yes, a true “elevator pitch” success story.