For Applied Biosensors, the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) has played a critical role in helping to accelerate the company’s technology development plans.
A spinout of the University of Utah, Applied Biosensors produces continuous biochemical monitoring systems and biosensors that can be utilized to address a variety of challenges and problems within the life sciences industry. These applications, which are wide-ranging, can be used to monitor analytes (biochemicals) such as glucose, pH, osmolality, and lactate, during biopharmaceutical processing.
“Our goal is to change the whole biosensor market eventually,” said Rohit Sharma, COO of Applied Biosensors. “The first sector we are targeting is biomanufacturing and targeting end users such as biopharmaceutical companies. They make protein-based medicines employing very specific conditions that have to be controlled and monitored for temperature, oxygen, glucose, and other toxic byproducts.”
Additionally, the company’s technology may be developed to use in the detection, prevention, and management of chronic diseases. One such application could be continuous detection of blood glucose where other applications would monitor clinical signs of disease activity in patients.
Applied Biosensors is not stopping at the current applications of its biosensor technology. The company is looking to scale its technology for water quality management, and other human monitoring, such as metabolism and dehydration.
To advance their technology, Applied Biosensors required access to lab and technical equipment that is often cost-prohibitive to small startup companies. To address this challenge, Applied Biosensors located their company at the USTAR life sciences incubator, BioInnovations Gateway (BiG), to offset costs and help grow their business.
“BioInnovations Gateway has been incredible for us,” said Sharma. “We started in a cubicle and went to a midsize room, and have grown to a bigger room, and then a bigger room. It really shows how we’ve grown.”
BiG is a partnership between USTAR and the Granite School District that combines business incubation with workforce development. The life sciences incubator provides startup companies with a competitive edge by providing access to equipment, laboratory facilities, and technical resources at a critical stage in their development, lowering overall capital costs associated with the early stages of development for companies.
In addition to providing Applied Biosensors office and wet lab space, and other technical equipment, BioInnovations Gateway also provides mentorship from technical experts and USTAR and the broader community, as well as networking opportunities.
“Many times, I’ve even just been standing in the hallway on my lunch break discussing a problem with another entrepreneur at BioInnovations Gateway, and they’ve been able to give me ideas, people to talk to, and other suggestions to fix the problem,” said Sharma, who even hosts informal meetups with other USTAR entrepreneurs. “Talking to someone who has been in your shoes or one of USTAR’s technology experts has really helped us.”
BioInnovations Gateway is currently at 100 percent occupancy for its office and wet lab space for startup companies, but continues to accept applications from interested companies to fill the space as companies graduate, which is a primary goal.
In addition to calling USTAR’s BioInnovations Gateway home, Applied Biosensors has utilized other USTAR resources. The company received a Technology Acceleration Program (TAP) grant and is a client of the USTAR SBIR Center.
With help from the USTAR SBIR Center, which helps Utah companies compete for funding from federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, Applied Biosensors received Phase I and II SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation totaling nearly $1 million. The Phase II funding, which was awarded in October, will allow the company to develop further its in-line sensor for monitoring monoclonal antibody production.
For Applied Biosensors, through USTAR support, the company’s next steps will be to launch their product and grow their company production capacity. The company plans to launch its product by mid-2019 and immediately hit international markets, in addition to domestic markets.
“In three years, our goal is to launch our first product manufacturing,” said Sharma. “We also have a patent which is pending in six countries, and patents issued in Russia and Japan. That is a really important part of our business plan.”
Beyond its pending product launch next year, Applied Biosensors already has its sight set on new products and technology development.
“We are already doing R & D on our sensors for continuous monitoring of proteins, which is the NSF project. We expect to hopefully have that product to market in two to three years.”
Sharma also stressed that for entrepreneurs like himself, programs like USTAR are critical in building successful deep technology startups.
“We have seen the growth of Utah firsthand,” said Sharma. “Resources like USTAR that are available for technology companies help create a really healthy environment for us to build our company. It helps to get their feedback, and have access to their resources like the BioInnovations Gateway and network with potential investors.”
To learn more about Applied Biosensors, visit http://appliedbiosensors.com/. To learn more about companies who have accelerated their technology development with USTAR assistance, as well as resources available to Utah entrepreneurs through USTAR, visit https://ustar.org/