SCIP effectively provides access to world-class technology development expertise

In February of 2017, the SCIP team met Jim TenBrink, Co-Founder/VP Encoris Group Corporation, at the MichBio Conference in Kalamazoo, where he was invited to speak about his disruptive medical technology. Within just six weeks from meeting Jim, SCIP helped pair Encoris with applied Medical Device Institute (aMDI), a technology center located on Medical Mile at Grand Valley State University’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Started in 2009, Encoris is a West Michigan-based developer and manufacturer of medical models and surgical trainers world-wide.  The company has recently patented the encORm.i.s. SmartTrainer System: surgical training technology created to replace the need for cadavers and the use of fluoroscopy in training. With portability, life-like anatomy, tactile realism, and live x-ray-like feedback, the SmartTrainer System will help clinicians and medical device companies train and promote the latest minimally invasive surgical (M.I.S.) techniques and medical implant technologies.  The new technology promises to further advance medical education, medical device marketing and sales promotion as well as product development and launches.  With the ever-increasing costs associated with traditional cadaver training, their limited supply, their lack of pathology, and their need for x-ray, the medical industry has long been waiting for an easier, safer and more cost-effective way to train surgeons on new medical implant technologies.  Through extensive customer research and feedback, Encoris has found a number of product enhancements that would make the SmartTrainer franchise an attractive player in the global market for non-cadaver medical training simulation.

Dr. Brent Nowak, Executive Director of aMDI, knew immediately that his team could help Encoris accelerate their SmartTrainer technology with hardware and software development, while maintaining a timeline that would accommodate stringent demands.  With vast experience and “at the speed of industry,” states Nowak, aMDI was founded in 2015 to help bridge the working relationship between universities and companies by providing high-level talent and resources.

The SCIP program provided matching funds to the SmartTrainer project and as a result, aMDI and Encoris were able to begin work immediately. Their close proximity to one another, clear-cut goals, and desire to produce a one-of-a-kind product has made the working experience one that Encoris would certainly repeat. The SCIP team is thrilled to have helped facilitate this winning new partnership as well as assist with the acceleration of this novel technology into the medical markets. With a product development cycle of just 9 months, a viable product prototype is expected to be fully developed before the end of 2017 with SmartTrainers ready for order after the 1st quarter 2018.  Orthopedics will be the first market targeted with sights on the Cardiovascular market shortly thereafter.  

SCIP accelerates cytometry technology for SBIR Phase II grant

Stabilux Biosciences, founded in 2014 by Dr. Yoke Khin Yap as a spin out from Michigan Tech University, developed a near market ready product and needed assistance from SCIP for independent product testing and verification to refine the product and provide data to customers. The team was ready to test the product on a range and variety of flow cytometers and put it to the test with independent verification. There was only one problem: flow cytometers can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there were few testing groups that had access to a wide range of them.

Working with the SCIP team and their MEDC partners, Steve Tokarz, CEO in residence, was able to connect with Dave Adams, Managing Director of the Flow Cytometry Core at the University of Michigan and develop a plan for verifying, independently, and across a range of machines, the fluorophores that Stabilux had developed to date. Moreover, with the matching SCIP funds, Dr. Adams put together a plan that was in reach for a start-up and thorough enough to validate their product.

In addition to the testing in the Michigan Biomedical Research Core Labs, the SCIP staff worked closely with Mr. Tokarz to perform thorough market analysis, investigate additional cell analysis techniques in which their fluorophore could be used, outline competitive benchmarking stats, and landscape the mergers and acquisitions in the market. Altogether, the flow cytometry market is expected to be $5b by 2021, and Stabilux has a product that would make them best in class.

​With new data in hand, both from the labs and the SCIP research staff, Stabilux’s proposal is recently being funded for an NSF STTR Phase II award, an important milestone for new startups during their growth stage.

SCIP unlocks commercial opportunities

Life Magnetics, a Detroit based startup led by Dr. Kevin Hagedorn, manufactures RNA extraction products, a magnetic bead technology that promises to drastically reduce the cost of genetic analyses, the foundation of many medical research projects and the underlying technique responsible enabling the Human Genome Project.

The Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP), funded through the MEDC’s Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) and administered by a team of business and technology strategists at the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute, worked with Life Magnetics to develop a technology development project with Wayne State University’s Dr. Mattingly. SCIP co-funded the cost of the project resulting in an RNA isolation product now being sold to multinational corporations and launching Life Magnetics into the market with an incredible growth opportunity.

Dr. Hagedorn stated, “SCIP has been instrumental in accelerating my company’s technology commercialization progress. The SCIP team from The Economic Growth Institute is efficient and effective in creating partnerships between entrepreneurs and university experts to foster collaboration for highly effective projects and outcomes.”

The SCIP team leverages their background in engineering, business and entrepreneurship to help clients develop benchtop technology into salable products. The program can help small businesses access university resources including world-class experts and expensive laboratory equipment. As a company is developing its technology, the Economic Growth Institute assists clients with market analysis, business coaching, and accessing capital to support a successful product launch.

SCIP helps manufacturer adopt Industry 4.0 technology

Petoskey Plastics, founded in 1969 now has three facilities and a cutting edge 330,000 square foot plastics recycling center, producing blown plastic films for a variety of industries including automotive, medical, construction and consumer.

Sustainable technologies is the cornerstone of the company’s mission so improving the percentage of recycled plastic in their products is a high priority and a business opportunity to expand throughput, increase revenue and generate more jobs. Scanning incoming plastic and identifying which materials are acceptable for recycling with their processes is a challenge the company has struggled with solving.

SCIP helped Petoskey Plastics identify an academic at Michigan Tech University to assist with identifying a spectroscopy scanning and filtering parameters that can be translated into an algorithm, automating the evaluation process for viability of recyclable materials.

Not only can this new technology improve Petoskey Plastics’ business opportunities and grow the company, but it holds the promise of licensing opportunities throughout the plastics recycling industry.

The SCIP team helped Petoskey Plastics parameterize the problem, generate a project definition, identified a chemist who could execute the project and then navigated the project contracting process with the company and university.

The Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP), funded through the MEDC’s Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) and administered by a team of business and technology strategists at the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute