Out Of Academics: Education, Entrepreneurship And Enterprise

Banes AJ. Ann Biomed Eng. 2013 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print]

The author started a niche biotech company in 1987 called Flexcell® to distribute an enabling technology, mechanobiology devices, to the field. He was the first University of North Carolina faculty member to start a company and stay with it as he pursued his career in academics. That was an unpopular route at that time, but a path he was driven to navigate. Those interests, merged with his training, led to the design and manufacture of mechanobiology devices such as the Flexercell® Strain Unit and the BioFlex® flexible bottom culture plates to study fundamental responses of cells to strain. Principles in these devices were also incorporated into bioreactors for tissue engineering, which are standard in the marketplace today. In this article, the major roadblocks will be chronicled that were overcome to help build the field of mechanobiology and create a small biotechnology company. Through example, the author's formula for achieving milestones will be discussed including, the DRIVE it takes to get there ["DRIVE": Determination (Confidence), Research and Development (R&D) and Risk-Taking, Innovation (Imagination) and Intellectual Property, achieving Victory, and Enterprise.