Akadeum Aims to Disrupt Cell-Sorting Technology with Microbubbles

November 2015

Featured in Xconomy Detroit on 10/30/2015: Read full article

“Akadeum Life Sciences is doing something that most biotechs don’t, says CEO Brandon McNaugton: practicing the lean startup method, which puts a heavy focus on customer discovery and feedback.”

“It was this process of talking to customers that inspired Ann Arbor, MI-based Akadeum to develop the Application Discovery Program, a tool it uses to help customers with their research that we’ll delve deeper into in a minute. It’s an ambitious undertaking for a startup that is already working to change the way cell sorting is performed and thought about.”

“The two main cell-sorting technologies being used right now, Younger says, involve a ‘wonderful but slow and expensive’ laser-activated method or one that relies on magnets to separate cells from their surroundings. ‘We’re faster than lasers and more gentle than magnets,’ Younger maintains. ‘And our price is competitive.'”

“McNaughton says that Akadeum’s customers are researchers working in life sciences, diagnostics, academia, food pathogens, and cell therapy—markets that combined generate several billion dollars in annual sales, he adds.”

“To help make the case for its product to customers, Akadeum has created an Application Discovery Program, where researchers can fill out a short online form telling the company what they’d like to use the bubbles for. If selected, they get early access to the most recent generation of Akadeum’s microbubbles at a discount, along with technical support.”

“’Once we started talking to our users, we created the Application Discovery Program,’ McNaughton says. ‘It lets them come to us with use cases. That’s the amazing thing about our technology—once they see it, they bring up uses we hadn’t thought of. We wanted to find a way to harness their enthusiasm.'”

“Akadeum’s investors are enthusiastic about the Application Discovery Program, too. The company closed on a $1 million seed round earlier this month; investors included Michigan eLab, Detroit Innovate, Invest Michigan, U-M’s MINTS program, and patent attorney Jeffrey Schox.”

“Doug Neal, managing director of Michigan eLab and one of Akadeum’s board members, said in a press release that it’s not often biotech startups have paying customers 18 months after the company is formed, and it was the dedication to a software startup-style approach that interested him just as much as Akadeum’s disruptive technology.”