Anandhi Upendran tells about capitalizing on
advice from the MU business development team..
Teamwork is the by-word at Nanoparticle BioChem Inc.
The Columbia, Mo., technology firm — founded in 2004 by an interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists and radiologists — focuses on research and production of an array of nanoparticle-based products. The current NBI team includes: Kattesh V. Katti, senior vice president; Raghuraman Kannan, vice president; Henry W. White, president and CEO; Kavita K. Katti, chief science officer; and Anandhi Upendran, director of research.
"Nanotechnology has spread its branches in a variety of applications," says Upendran. "NBI has focused its nanotechnology research and product development in the fields of medicine, health and hygiene."
Products developed by the research team at NBI are of high commercial value, says Upendran. The company's nanomedicine research concentrates on developing products for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Its antimicrobial research focuses on a series of antimicrobial agents with important applications for the production of antimicrobial textiles for the defense, health, hospitality and hygiene industries.
NBI has demonstrated the potential to deliver innovative products that are ready for market, according to Paul Rehrig, technology and commercialization specialist at the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Center in Columbia.
"Nanotechnology BioChem has provided a variety of beneficial applications to society because they have built a team of experts to research and develop new products for nanomedicine applications," says Rehrig. "Additionally, by adopting a continual improvement mindset and a proactive attitude, we believe that Nanoparticle BioChem has a good chance of success in commercializing its technology."
Rehrig has a unique perspective on which to base his assessment. He is a member of a team of small business development specialists from the University of Missouri that has helped guide NBI's business development.
"One hurdle often encountered by researchers reaching out to create a new technology-based venture is realizing that they might not know all of the answers, and filling in gaps in their team and strategy when needed," Rehrig observes. "Nanoparticle BioChem has interacted with a number of our business development programs to get over this hurdle."
NBI's initial contact with MU's SBTDC occurred when Upendran enrolled in a FastTrac NewVenture class taught by business specialist Virginia Wilson. Among other fundamental concepts, Upendran learned to write a business plan for NBI. After reading the plan, Wilson encouraged the NBI researcher to talk with Rehrig.
"Paul has helped us in many ways," says Upendran. "He has provided details about research funding opportunities available through private, state and federal agencies. He also reviewed our research grant proposals and gave us feedback about presenting them in a proper format to the agencies."
These grant application efforts have yielded several successes including two Small Business Innovation Research Phase I awards from the National Institutes of Health for $100,000 and $150,000 respectively. Also, NBI has used seed money from a $5,000 Missouri Technology Incentive Program grant to develop additional SBIR applications, results of which are pending from NIH and the Environmental Protection Agency. Funding for the MoTIP program comes from the Missouri Department of Economic Development through the Missouri Technology Corp.
In addition to working with Wilson and Rehrig, the NBI team also has sought advice from Jim Gann, MO SBTDC specialist, and Bill Stuby, a specialist with the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. Upendran learned about developing presentations for private angel investors during a class taught by Gann. Stuby has provided valuable information to NBI on government contracting opportunities for the firm's antimicrobial textiles.
So, the MU business development team of SBTDC and PTAC specialists has proved to be a valuable resource for the research team at Nanoparticle BioChem.
"I know I can knock on their doors anytime and they volunteer to help in any way they can," says Upendran. "We truly appreciate their help. I'm happy this kind of service exists on the MU campus."
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This story was featured in the April 2009 newsletter.
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