Manufacturing Pitfalls to Avoid in Commercialization

Friday, February 5, 2021 - 1:25pm - 2:25pm
Angelique Johnson (MEMStim LLC)
Registration is required to access the Zoom webinar.

Disruptive and life changing technologies are created every day in University labs. Unfortunately, most of them will end up in the “valley-of-death.” Why? Because everything that is created must be made. In this talk Dr. Angelique Johnson will highlight how to avoid the ever-expanding pit of University technologies that never make it to commercialization. Spoiler alert! It starts by considering manufacturing at the beginning of the innovation process and not the end.

As founder of MEMStim LLC, I have been driving its commercialization efforts and success. Through my efforts the company has been awarded NSF ICORPS, NIH Phase I/II and EPSCoR grants, as well as several national business plan prizes. I have developed commercial ready technology that has acquired two approved US patents and several international approvals and filings. Over 100 MEMStim arrays have been tested in animal models, and a smaller number in pre-clinical human cadaver trials. The technology has been demoed by leading implant manufacturers. I have formed key strategic relationships with the top three cochlear implant manufacturers that have resulted in LOI's highlighting their eagerness to adopt MEMStim technology and interest in investing in further commercialization.

I am an expert in the lean startup model, having been trained by Steve Blanks through a federal program he co-developed. Using lean startup methods, I have raised nearly $2M for MEMStim. Aside from my business development experience with MEMStim, I have coached and advised several young startups, which have gone on to attain their own funding and commercialization successes. I am a nationally recognized expert in innovation, having served as a presenter to entities such as NBC Universal, NSF, the St. Louis Federal Reserve and more. In 2016, I gave a debriefing at the US Capitol on the state of innovation.

In the area of batch fabricated cochlear electrode arrays, I have served as Principle Investigator on a University of Michigan Medical Innovation grant, Principle Investigator on a Kentucky Science and Technology Matching Funds grant, and Entrepreneurial Lead on an NSF I-CORPS grant. As PI on MEMStim’s NIH Phase I SBIR, I produced one of the first microfabricated cochlear electrode arrays to demonstrate a high likelihood of suitability for human use. As PI on an NIH Phase II grant, I hope to extend the Phase I efforts. Through my years of research in batch fabrication, I have discovered that microfabrication alone is not sufficient to produce viable clinical electrode arrays. The manufacturing method needs to be combined with an accessible manufacturing process delivery (i.e. 3D printing) to encourage customer adoption of the technology.