2014 ACS Northwest Regional Meeting

Small Business Symposium - Monday, June 23

Financially supported by an ACS Local Section Innovative Program grant and grants from the Division of Small Chemical Businesses and NORM 2014. 


Speaker and abstract


"Transition from a research idea to a nationally viable scientific instrument company: Lessons from starting a company from scratch."

John Amend, President, MicroLab, Inc (jamend@microlabinfo.com, www.microlabinfo.com)

The distance between a good idea and a nationally-viable scientific instrument company is often wider than its optimistic founders realize.

Those of us who teach college and university chemistry are running a balancing act. We have more students, many more in some cases. The pressure is on for shorter lab periods, reduced costs and chemical use, increased safety, and improved learning.

MicroLab is an educational scientific instrument company. It was founded by seven college/university chemistry faculty whose goal it has been to employ computer technology to use lab time more effectively and to solve these problems of cost, safety, and learning.

From a start at "zero" in 2000, MicroLab now has a broad product line and a solid manufacturing team and holds three U.S. Patents. Its products and software have been adopted by more than 225 college and universities in the U.S. and Canada.

This talk will show how we designed and built the company, how we added competent business partners to our team, and how we found knowledgeable help for finance, intellectual property, and overseas sales. And we will explain why it's not smart to sell to universities in a war zone.


"Profit Mastery: An Introduction"

Amita Greer, Montana CDC, Small Business Development Center (amitap@mtcdc.org, www.mtcdc.org)

Developed by Steve LeFever from Business Resource Services, Profit Mastery is a financial performance system that provides the tools to help every business owner make smarter decisions based on accurate financial statements. In this session, we will explore the linkages between the profit and loss and balance sheet statements, understand the difference between profit and cash flow, and learn how the breakeven analysis can help you make better decisions relating to cost, price, and profits.




"Intellectual Property and Start-Ups: How to Successfully Prepare and Manage Intellectual Property Issues without Spending a Fortune"

Lisa Mueller, Michael, Best & Friedrich (llmueller@michaelbest.com, www.michaelbest.com)

Turning an idea into a business requires a significant commitment in terms of time, energy and resources. Given that intellectual property ("IP") may some day become a start-up's most valuable asset, it is important to identify, protect and manage IP assets early and in a cost effective manner. This session will examine some of the most common mistakes made by start-ups regarding their IP, what can be done to avoid them, and, how to minimize mistakes if they do occur. Examples will be provided that demonstrate the impact that proper management of IP can have on the success of a start-up.


Lunch/poster session


"Accessing SBIR/STTR funding for new business growth, and leveraging federal laboratory resources"

Ray Friesenhahn, SBIR/Tech Trans Mgr, MSU TechLink (rayf@montana.edu, www.techlinkcenter.org)

While venture funding is rare in Montana, and nearly non-existent for risky high-tech start-up companies that want to remain in-state, over 100 Montana firms have won more than $160M via nearly 600 SBIR/STTR awards to fund their innovative ideas focused on commercial applications. TechLink and MTIP partner to provide the best assistance available in the U.S. for winning SBIR, with award rates double the national averages, rising to 1/3 for Phase I, and 3/4 for Phase II. In addition, TechLink assists firms in partnering with DoD federal labs to leverage research capabilities, license government inventions, build credibility with reviewers, and create connections with other government funding and acquisition programs. Best of all, assistance from TechLink and MTIP is all provided free of charge.


"Driving Economic Development Through Public Private Partnerships"

Joe Fanguy, University of Montana, Office of Research (joe.fanguy@umontana.edu, www.umt.edu/research/innovation)

Public private partnerships have become a cornerstone for stimulating entrepreneurship and economic development efforts in western Montana, particularly in partnership with the University of Montana. Models for successful partnerships will be discussed as they relate to start-up company Rivertop Renewables, business incubator MonTEC and the newly established Montana Blackstone LaunchPad program.




"Industrial Production of Strategically Critical Rare Earth Elements with Solid Phase Extraction Composites Modified with Selective Chelating Agents"

Richard Hammen, President, Intellimet LLC (rich.hammen@gmail.com, www.intelligentmetallurgy.com)

The chemical separation of metals from water requires a phase transfer process. In the case of Rare Earth Element (REE) production, the purification of individual RE elements is conventionally accomplished by Solvent Extraction technology. This has been optimized in China, and is the reason that China now produces over 95% of REE worldwide. At IntelliMet, we have developed solid nanocomposite ion exchange columns that are the basis of our company's technology for purifying and producing rare earth elements (REE) and other metal ions. The columns are called Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) units. The SPE columns are synthesized on a silica substrate with a covalently grafted network of a thinly cross-linked hydrophilic polymers. The polymer network is modified with metal-selective chelating agents. The columns are durable, have high production capacity, and very rapid ion exchange kinetics. This is the technology "platform" of our business initiative to establish a REE production plant on US soil. The technology was first developed by SBIR grants to create the core technology platform. First generation prototype columns were then used to demonstrate performance to REE mining company customers. One of the leading mining companies in the REE sector has used the results of this to become a leader in the sector. We describe the path of founding a chemical technology company and our corporate development to serve a strategically important market.


"Growing a Successful Chemical Business in Montana: Panel Discussion and True Stories"

Moderator - Paul Gladen, University of Montana, Blackstone LaunchPad

With the goal of encouraging chemical business development in this region, a panel of company representatives will share their experiences. A brief description of each business will be followed by an open discussion including questions from the audience. Panel members are:

Nicholas Guilloteau, Scientist at DermaXon, Missoula (www.dermaxon.com). DermaXon is a preclinical-stage drug discovery company providing first-in-class molecules and works to discover and develop novel therapeutic strategies for treatment and prevention of life-threatening chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, ichtyosis and neuropathic pain. DermaXon has an innovative chemical entities pipeline targeting G Protein Coupled Receptors, Nuclear Receptors and Cytochrome CYP26s.

Jon Nagy of NanoValent Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bozeman, MT. NanoValent is commercializing a drug delivery platform based on polymerized liposomal nanoparticle technology. It is capable of delivering a wide array of drug molecules or cocktails using multiple tissue targeting ligands. The company has secured five patents and significant grant funding. The Company's strategy is to develop several internal delivery programs, while leveraging the versatility of the platform technology providing custom drug delivery solutions.

Brenda Spangler, CEO of SensoPath Technologies, Bozeman, MT (www.sensopath.com). SensoPath is a global leader supplying proprietary surface modification linkers for self-assembled monolayers on gold and multiphoton fluorescent dyes for biosensors, diagnostics, and cellular imaging applications. SensoPath also designs and develops new classes of targeted imaging agents and targeted light-active Photodynamic Therapy photosensitizers for minimally invasive imaging and treatment of solid tumors and drug-resistant bacteria.

Neal Blossom, Director of Global Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at American Chemet Corporation, East Helena, MT (www.chemet.com). American Chemet is a manufacturer of metal oxides, powders and chemicals. The company has organized and operated businesses to produce paint, mine talc and onyx, and manufacture copper based products. Chemet currently employs 120.

Richard Hammen, Intellimet LLC, Missoula, will also join the panel following his earlier presentation.