Research is patient. Entrepreneurship needs everything done yesterday.
Research requires significant public and private front-end investment. Entrepreneurship bootstraps for months, even years. But when research and entrepreneurship intersect, magical things can happen.
Take DermaMedics, an Oklahoma City-based pharmaceutical skin care company that develops novel topical therapeutics for the dermatology market.
Founded less than five years ago by Dr. Bryan B. Fuller, DermaMedics has more than 20 products being sold through more than 220 medical offices in five states. Fuller was a first-time Biotechnology Industry Organization attendee at the 2012 BIO event, on a mission to expand national and international distribution through key partnerships.
“The BIO experience was fantastic,” Fuller says. “The first thing you do is post your contact information and a small paragraph about your company at the message center. Anyone interested can send a request for a meeting.”
When Fuller posted on the BIO partnering website that DermaMedics has developed nonsteroidal topical therapeutics to treat inflamed skin, he received a landslide of meeting requests.
“A lot of small startups at BIO request meetings with bigger firms,” Fuller said. “It was different for us. I didn't request one meeting; I responded to requests. If you are a technology, you have to convince people with the science. But we aren't just a technology; we have products on the market. That's an advantage that appeals to people.”
DermaMedics met with companies from Denmark, Japan, Canada and Spain, as well as U.S. firms that all want new dermatologic products that are not steroids. One company was a French firm that is among the 10 largest veterinarian product companies in the world, looking for ways to treat hot spots and dermatitis in animals.
There remains considerable uphill work for DermaMedics to convert meetings into revenue — but Fuller says the company's participation in BIO was a terrific start.
“The reason I was so excited,” he said, “is that these are seriously good leads. We're at a crossroads of getting ready to explode and grow. In any licensing or distribution deal, there are no guarantees, but just imagine how big DermaMedics could be if we have a major player distributing our product.”
He's right. Just think of the Oklahoma jobs that would be created at DermaMedics' intersection of research and entrepreneurship. That's magical.
Tom Walker is president and CEO of i2E, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact him at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Employment of biomedical engineers is expected to grow by 62 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations (14 percent).