It may be coming into a crowded market, but Protea Biosciences can still claim a first-mover advantage. As the self-described first biotech biz in West Virigina, the proteomics company could be opening the industry floodgates in the state.
Led by CEO Stephen Turner, who’s made a career out of launching companies, the Morgantown-based Protea was started to commercialize a technology from West Virginia University’s Health Sciences Center. Relying on microfluidics, Protea’s three employees are shooting to improve protein separation and detection, Turner says. This takes place on a small microfluidics chip using ultrachannels of fluid that make it easier to find low-abundance proteins because samples can be so much smaller.
“We’re not an instrument company,” Turner says. “Our goal is not to create a box to sell to people.” Instead, Protea looks to find additional targets and squeeze profit out of them by partnering with other companies. “We won’t generate hundreds of targets. We’ll generate tens of targets, but each one will be fully characterized.”
Turner is working on a $1.5 million round of funding to jump-start the company, which is just over three months old. An early-stage biotech specialist, he also founded BRL, a division of Life Technologies recently bought by Invitrogen.
— Meredith Salisbury