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INNOVATION: Finding the way from ordinary to extraordinary

Submitted by on June 12, 2012 – 5:12 pm

The biggest question in entrepreneurship is how does one take an idea and make it reality, make it something that’s tangible and positively affects an individual and society as a whole. This was the theme at March’s SDBN networking event with Organovo, sponsored by Invetech.

Invetech helps companies translate innovations into breakthrough products.  They work with diagnostics, life sciences, medical devices, industrial, consumer and clean-tech industries.  Based in Australia, Invetech opened an office in San Diego in 2008 and has worked with a number of local companies including Organovo.

From idea to solutions – focus on the need

From what seems science fiction, Organovo has developed a 3D bioprinting technology that can create fully functional human tissues; winning numerous innovation awards, including recognition by Time and MIT Technology Review. Organovo’s 3D human tissues better recapitulate human biology, a critical need for advancing medical research and improving patient care.

Organovo’s 3D bioprinting platform has built a number of tissue types including blood vessels, lung, liver and kidney tissues, nerve guides and cardiac sheets and patches.  The technology is able to architect, without the use of scaffolding, 3 dimensional anatomically correct tissues with integrated microvasculature that can respond to biomechanical and soluble stimuli.  This structural organization of the multiple cell types typical to tissue composition results in tissue-level responses and physiologic processes found in native biology.

These tissue constructs have many applications including disease modeling, discovering new drug candidates, testing therapeutics for safety and efficacy and investigating complex human biology questions.  Ultimately, this technology offers the opportunity to create tissues used as direct therapies.

Innovation is a team effort

Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology was pioneered by Professor Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri, who is also Organovo’s scientific founder.  To advance the technology to a commercial product, Organovo selected Invetech as their technology development partner because of their sophisticated engineering and automation expertise that protected Organovo’s intellectual property, allowing Organovo to focus on its’ key competency in cell biology.

Because 3D bioprinting has so many applications, an important component of Organovo’s strategy resides in developing partner relationships. The company currently has collaborations with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, and leading research institutions, including Harvard Medical School and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

Innovation doesn’t just happen in the lab

Organovo recently went public with a $15.2 million private placement and is listed on OTCQB under the symbol “ONVO.”  The company was initially funded with angel money and grants.

During this event, Keith Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Organovo, shared some of his insight into the mindset for becoming a successful start-up business owner and what should be part of an entrepreneur’s toolkit.

His tips include:

  1. Take what is around you and find the best possible application for those tools
  2. Plan to weather the storm in your personal finances
  3. Realize that failure is an option but that’s ok, it can be riskier to stay in your comfort zone forever
  4. The best opportunity for angel funding comes from references from your existing network
  5. The four most important words for a successful entrepreneur: network, partners, money, team (not necessarily in this order)

Watch where you are watching

Invetech shared the story about “The Invisible Gorilla Experiment.”  If you have not seen it, click here to view the video and read more about the experiment. Invetech’s point about innovation is to make sure that when you focus on the details, you must also take a step back to focus on the big picture.  Otherwise, you may miss something…something that could be the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

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Invetech will be at Connect with CONNECT on June 21st.

Organovo will be at BIO International Convention in Boston.  Organovo currently has open positions.

 

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