Flyover Country fights the pandemic
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In 2019, Yashar Niknafs co-founded, along with his PhD mentor at the University of Michigan, a company called LynxDx. While the company was launched with the goal of developing a urine test that could screen for prostate cancer, the team decided to make a big pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic: using their lab to test for the virus.
There were some big roadblocks along the way—testing requires regulatory approval and reporting, etc.—but LynxDx went all in. They purchased PCR machines (which amplify DNA by regulating temperature in cyclical programs) at $100,000 apiece and made new hires, including a medical director to focus only on the tests. The company works with hospital overflows but is on a task force for testing in rural Michigan where the need for testing is dire.
If you enjoy discovering innovation in surprising places and hearing stories from entrepreneurial leaders, Fast Frontiers is your new must-listen to podcast. Host Tim Schigel, Managing Partner of Refinery Ventures, brings you interviews from leading funders, ecosystem builders, corporate innovators, and startup founders. Your next big idea is one episode away!
Disagree and commit — S2: E7
Disagree and commit is a concept made famous by Jeff Bezos. It's something that's used often among partners in venture firms. Not everybody agrees with an investment idea, but once the investment's made, everybody is pulling in the same direction. Mackey Craven, investor and Forbes 30 under 30 alumnus, explains how this is put into practice to achieve success.
What problem do you really solve? — S2: E8
Are you ready to solve a key problem and build a startup that’s a category king like Uber or Airbnb? Then, play bigger! Kevin Maney, co-author of Play Bigger and advisor at Category Design, joins the Fast Frontiers podcast to provide insight on developing your next big idea.
Navigating in chaos — S2: E9
VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Sound familiar? Thanks, 2020. VUCA is a term that came out of the military. Today, it’s a power tool for companies to create a successful framework for innovation. Author and researcher Bruce Vojak shares how VUCA is put into practice so you too can navigate innovation in chaos and thrive.
Scientists at The Ohio State University think they have a way to “trick” the coronavirus into thinking it’s causing an infection. Amit Sharma, an assistant professor of veterinary biosciences at OSU and co-lead author of the study, and his team have designed peptides that mimic the receptors the coronavirus uses to cause an infection, which fools the virus into binding with the peptides before it reaches the body.
The team is still studying the technology but believe it could be useful in nasal sprays and disinfectants that could help prevent someone from contracting COVID-19.
Two new rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests
Two new rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been developed by University of Minnesota researchers.
The first test is a rapid diagnostic test that can differentiate between COVID-19 variants. This test can be performed without specialized expertise or equipment and produces results in about an hour.
The second, more sensitive test, allows researchers to analyze the same sample simultaneously for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), Influenza A and B and respiratory syncytial virus by measuring fluorescence. These viruses manifest with similar symptoms, so being able to detect and differentiate them adds a new diagnostic tool to slow the spread of COVID-19.
There have been lots of efforts during the pandemic to make effective face masks, from finding ways to tighten the fit of a standard surgical mask to including soft, face-fitting frames. Now students at the University of Cincinnati have come up with a solution for ill-fitting masks: 3D-printed custom face masks using a smartphone.
The phone app scans your face then sends the scan to a 3D printer. Sam Anand, professor of mechanical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science Siemens Simulation Technology Center, created the app through a grant from software company Siemens PLM, which uses the latest in simulation and computing to tackle engineering problems outside the classroom.
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