A recent funding round that netted almost $1.5 million will allow Ann Arbor-based bioscience company Akadeum Life Sciences to develop and market more products and double its staff.
The Ann Arbor company closed its latest round of financing Sept. 8, with Silicon Valley-based BioInfleXion Point Partners leading the financing round. The fund typically invests in the Bay Area, but said in a press release that the combination of the company's innovative technology and the strong team at Akadeum made the investment attractive. The core idea behind Akadeum's technology is sorting biological samples with microbubbles that target specific cells and float them to the surface to be collected.
Other investors include 5 Prime Ventures, the University of Michigan’s MINTS (Michigan Invests in New Technology Startups), Detroit Innovate Fund (part of Invest Detroit), and local angel investors.
Akadeum was founded by CEO Brandon McNaughton and CTO John Younger not long after they met by chance at a conference about seven or eight years ago. Later, when McNaughton was working at a startup and Younger was working as a professor at the University of Michigan, a mutual friend suggested they start talking with each other.
"We had a meeting, and I think both of us shared early on our interest in making an impact through innovation, developing something in the lab, and then putting it to work," McNaughton says.
They also agreed on a "lean startup" method that involved putting microbubbles in users' hands early in the development process.
"So we were basically doing development and marketing at the same time," says McNaughton. "For the life sciences, it's unusual to start getting early users before you're even done with development. In a lean startup, customer needs drive development, so you're not spending money or time on things they don't need."
Younger explains the microbubble technology that he and McNaughton have built their company on.
"When users have samples of cells, say from a clinical sample or from a patient, all the cells are like a big bowl of M&Ms," Younger says. "For the user, there's only one color they want, and they want to get rid of the rest. The technology lets us grab just the blue ones, or grab everything that's non-blue and throw it away so only the blue ones remain."
McNaughton says this latest round of funding will allow the company to launch a few products into a wider market.
"The last two years, we've focused on manufacturing microbubbles for cell separation, and now we need to decide what products we want to release," McNaughton says. "We're planning on releasing several of them. We're going to continue what we're doing, putting our products early on into user hands, and building the company."
To help with that expansion, Akadeum plans to move to a new facility at MI-HQ in Ann Arbor by the end of September and double its team from five to 10.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Akadeum.