Bill Malkes describes his latest gig – Chief Executive Officer of NellOne Therapeutics Inc. – and the company’s recent relocation to the Fairview Technology Center as “like going through high school again.”
In fact, it’s a return to a building where he, fellow serial Entrepreneur Vig Sherrill, and Doug Yeager launched TradeWind Technologies, a company focused on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
“It (Fairview) feels good, it feels familiar,” Malkes says of the former elementary school in the Solway Community that has served as a small business incubator for nearly three decades. It is operated by The Development Corporation of Knox County.
NellOne will occupy two suites, one for its lab and another for offices. The additional space is required to support an aggressive business plan that Malkes and Bem Culiat, NellOne Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, have developed. Federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are an important part of their strategy going forward, and they see a need for space for up to 20 additional individuals.
As they considered options, Malkes said the decision to locate in the Fairview Center was an easy choice. In addition to having spawned another company there before selling it in 2004, he says the Fairview Center is also home to another life science company – 490 BioTech – and two start-ups that were attracted here by the “Innovation Crossroads” program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“Knox County is also inviting, and you can’t beat the program offered at Fairview,” Malkes added.
The company’s path forward involves a number of different possibilities in the healthcare space to utilize the modified Nell1 gene for which a provisional patent was just filed (see recent teknovation.biz article here). The provisional is an extension of the company’s pioneering research into the NELL1 protein as a candidate to treat acute major injuries in soft tissues and, in this case, to be used in the treatment of respiratory viral infections including COVID-19.
“Nell1 is applicable in a lot of different places in the body,” Malkes says. As different applications are developed, the company will seek channel partners for commercialization.
For those of us who have known him for years, one can see that Malkes is really pumped-up about the opportunities that he sees. “Nothing gets me more excited than fighting for a cause,” he says, adding, “How lucky I am to be able to do a start-up again at my age.”