As with the growth and development of a living organism, the process of taking an idea from conception to commercialization has its own lifecycle. Based at a home office in Maine, I work with early-stage companies from across the country, helping them bring their great ideas to market. They may have demonstrated a new technology to improve healthcare delivery on the bench or the kitchen table, but need guidance on the path from invention to implementation. Maybe they are still working on the data needed to attract investors. In any case, such companies often need the support of a business incubator before presenting their ideas or products to investors: that kitchen table or garage where they have been working so long and hard may not show off their company to its maximum advantage.
The entrepreneur.com website defines a business incubator as follows.
“An organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services and networking connections.”
Most states are host to business incubators, but many don’t offer the specialized spaces demanded by the growing field of biotechnology. Recently, I found myself looking for biotech incubator space for Coagulation Sciences, a medical device client working on innovative products to help hospitals and trauma centers significantly decrease blood transfusions. Based in the Bronx, N.Y., Coagulation Sciences is developing an analytical instrument that determines whether a coagulation disorder is truly present and, if so, the cause, allowing doctors to select the proper treatment within 15 minutes. By giving the doctors better information within a short time period, the Multiple Coagulation Test System (MCTSTM) improves patient safety and reduces health care costs. The company eventually hopes to manufacture the MCTSTM and its disposable test cartridge in Maine.
My initial search for incubator space for Coagulation Sciences in eastern Maine came up empty. I could find industrial space with concrete floors, but I needed clean laboratory space with some core infrastructure that would support the development and testing of a medical device. I also needed a space that would show potential investors that my clients were serious about business. Then I found the MDI Biological Laboratory — the answer to my client’s need.
The MDI Biological Laboratory is seeking to expand Maine’s R&D sector by helping to launch and grow life sciences-oriented businesses. In response to my inquiry, the institution offered office and laboratory incubator space, including access to a well-equipped core laboratory. The space came with access to the kind of scientific and business expertise required to help take my client’s product to the next level, including that of faculty and staff who understand the biological sciences. Finally, because I live in Maine, the space allowed me, as Coagulation Sciences’ director of product development, the flexibility to spend as much time in the laboratory as the company’s growth demands.
In order to foster a thriving science and technology sector, Maine needs an entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide space, resources, expertise and mentoring for life sciences startups. The cooperation between research and entrepreneurship represented by the MDI Biological Laboratory’s incubator program is an example of the kind of synergy that will help Maine transition to a 21st century economy based on information and knowledge.