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Entrepreneur turns bacterial daydream into successful start-up

Monday, August 20, 2012

Prof Matt DeLisa in the lab

Basic research used to be pretty straightforward. A scientist had an idea, performed the research, and disseminated the results broadly through publications. That paradigm has shifted. Today, scientists can take their work beyond a publication by patenting and commercializing resulting technologies. The government and universities alike are encouraging researchers to take their work out of the lab and into the commercial sector. But trading an experimental design for a business plan is not for everyone. The choice requires a careful examination of one’s self and one’s technology. It also requires learning an entirely new language. Resources are available to help scientists make their way; however, it comes down to a personal choice. For those who decide they and their business idea are ready, they have the potential to experience the satisfaction of seeing what they have developed meet a market need by getting it into the hands of the public.

Long before he was a professor at Cornell, Matt DeLisa began daydreaming about engineering bacteria to make humanlike glycoproteins that could in turn find use as innovative drugs. It wasn’t until a decade later, however—as DeLisa joined the faculty of Cornell University’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering—that he and his group dove into research that began to turn his dreams into reality. Eager to tap the commercial potential of his glycosylation concept, DeLisa joined with one of his first graduate students, Adam Fisher, to form Glycobia in 2009. In the August 20 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, a journal of the American Chemical Society, DeLisa is featured in a cover story entitled "Going Commercial." The story explores the challenging path to becoming a chemical entrepreneur and profiles selected trailblazers, including DeLisa, on the what, why, and how of turning ideas into new businesses.


Link to "Going Commercial" cover story:
Chemical and Engineering News

Link to feature on chemical entrepreneur Matt DeLisa:

DeLisa Group:

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