By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Three of the key success factors for entrepreneurs are to be focused, committed, and agile, and those characteristics aptly describe the team at Knoxville-based Innovasan Corporation.
Since we first met the Hubrigs – Jeff Sr., Ellen, and Jeff Jr. last August at a Life Science Tennessee Roundtable, we’ve been following their progress toward their ultimate goal of having a clean water technology product ready for the commercial market by the start of 2017.
In short order, the company won Life Science Tennessee’s “Venture Forum” in October and CO.LAB’s “Will This Float?” competition in November and was one of 50 start-ups competing in the “New England Venture Summit” in December. Now, Jeff Jr., Innovasan’s Manager of Business Development, is participating in CO.LAB’s Spring Accelerator.
“It’s great, a very eclectic group of people,” he says. “It’s also a great way to connect with the community.”
But competitions and programs designed for entrepreneurs are a small component of where the Hubrigs and the Innovasan team are placing their emphasis. They have been focused on getting their first product ready for the market, something that has been enhanced by the recent discovery of an additional value proposition.
As noted in our initial article about the company in October, Innovasan is developing Med-San®, a four-step modular process to treat biological and pharmaceutical wastes for safe and immediate disposal into municipal sewer systems.
Hubrig described the product at the time as “a continuous flow, volume scalable” treatment technology as opposed to the current disposal batch processes. It consists of pre-treatment, ion infusion, wet oxidation, and post-treatment steps.
“Those four stages, working in unison, comprise Med-San®,” he explains.
The initial product to be offered is the Gauntlet Disinfection System, an in-line, continuous flow device designed to destroy biological contaminants found in water and fluid waste streams. Hubrig explains that this system employs two of the four Med-San® modular steps – pre-treatment and metal infusion.
“We are currently raising a $1,000,000 seed round which will bridge us to a Series A round,” he explains. This would be Innovasan’s first formal fund raising effort, and Hubrig says the company will use the funds to put the Gauntlet™ Disinfection System in pre-selected hospitals for field trials to validate the cost savings value proposition in support of the 2017 commercial launch.
There has also been an important development in the value proposition for the Innovasan product.
Hubrig says their value proposition for on-site treatment of infectious fluid waste revolves around cost savings, primarily direct cost savings over current practices by hospitals. Recently, as the Innovasan team was engaged in discussions with potential beta-site hospitals, it discovered an additional cost savings opportunity – insurance and environmental liability.
“There’s a whole other part of the equation,” Hubrig says. “There’s a lot of liability in what we are trying to do.”
Enter Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a global firm that has a focus on commercial insurance and risk management. Innovasan has formed a strategic partnership with Gallagher to develop the environmental insurance risk management component of its value proposition.
“They’ve been accompanying us on visits to hospitals to discuss risk management,” Hubrig says, naming Diane Randall and Jeff Thurston of Gallagher’s Nashville Office. The two have also set-up meetings for Innovasan with underwriters who are interested in the potential of a new risk management standard.
Innovasan started developing the technology in 2007, so a 2017 commercial launch would represent a decade of work and commitment.
“Everything is on the table,” Jeff Jr. says about the future once Innovasan starts making sales. “We would like to retain control and grow the company to ensure that our technology translates into products that meet the global demand. Under the right circumstances, an IPO or acquisition are absolutely possibilities.”
For now, the focus is the beginning of 2017 and building relationships to ensure the successful launch of the Gauntlet™ Disinfection System in 2017.