The 2018 Invent Penn State Venture and IP Conference Tech Tournament featured a collection of the best startups utilizing Penn State technology. Biomaterial technology startup Aleo BME Inc. was one of the few startups selected to participate and compete for over $160,000 in prize money—ultimately winning third place and $25,000.
“Our technology being recognized by business investors—investors realizing the value of our technology, will help us to keep up the momentum and continue working on our technology,” Penn State professor Dr. Jian Yang said. “The whole experience was really good. I’m a scientist and even though we cofounded the company here, we need the connections, talking to people like investors. This was a great conference for us to get know business people and investors like that.”
With three exclusively-licensed patents from Penn State, Aleo BME is developing a plant-inspired, fully synthetic, biocompatible, biodegradable, elastic, fast curing, and strong wet-issue adhesive based on proprietary biomaterial technologies. The product comes with an easy-to-use delivery tool and is designed as an off-the-shelf product without extra preparation requirements. The company’s Elaskin liquid bandage was cleared by the FDA in January 2018.
The problem Aleo BME is attempting to solve is that current post-surgical closure procedures like sutures or staples often result in damage to surrounding healthy tissue, microbial infection, body fluid or air leakage, and poor cosmetic outcome. Additionally sutures are not suitable on friable tissues such as those in the brain, spine, lung, liver, and kidney; and often result in fluid leakage leading to devastating complications. Postoperative leakages occur in 3 to 15 percent of cases and are a serious complication leading to one-third of postoperative deaths and significant financial burden in patients.
“Aleo BME is a wonderful example of a young company progressing with the help of the various support programs in the Invent Penn State ecosystem,” said Jim Pietropaolo, associate director of the Penn State Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization.
Aleo BME has taken full advantage of being in the Penn State ecosystem to develop their solution. Shortly after their founding in 2015, Aleo were accepted into the Ben Franklin Technology Partners TechCelerator in Innovation Park. Dr. Yang credits the accelerator program with helping Aleo BME better understand their markets and approach to business.
“We participated in the TechCelerator and learned a lot about different aspects of business like IP, cofounding companies, talking to investors and even market analysis.” Dr. Yang said. “It really helped us to understand the business side since we all come from science backgrounds.”
After successfully completing the TechCelerator program Aleo BME found themselves in need of dedicated workspace. It can be difficult for a technology based startup to find office space that suits their needs, but Aleo were able to secure office space in the Technology Center Incubator at Innovation Park.
“We have 1,000 square feet of space. Half is an office and the other half is a lab,” said Dr. Yang. “Being in Innovation Park has been important. If we need a materials facility we can reach out to Penn State and use their state of the art facility. We can also reach out to Ben Franklin Technology Partners or the Office of Sponsored Research and the Office of Technology Management is right here—everything is convenient.”