The U.S. Army recently awarded a Missouri biotech startup a $1 million contract for 24 months.
Based in Drexel, Missouri, about an hour south of Kansas City, InnovaPrep was selected out of hundreds of proposals for the Department of Defense’s 2016 Rapid Innovation Fund. The contract is expected to advance development of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s prototype Mano Surface sampler.
With 30 pending and awarded patterns, InnovaPrep develops biotech devices that seek to improve the detection of pathogens. Although it’s not the first time the firm has worked with the Department of Defense, the partnership marks InnovaPrep’s largest contract yet, said founder Dave Alburty.
“InnovaPrep is kind of on a save-the-world mission,” he said. “We’ve been in a battle with pathogens for a millennia. It’s been making us sick whether we knew it or not. Now, we have technology that can help us fight infections. Our technology can detect what pathogens or spoilage organisms are present in the environment and gather samples.”
The firm’s team of 22 is expected to use the Mano Surface sampler to quickly and efficiently select pathogen samples from large surface areas during biosurveillance activities.
“This contract is going to help us and help them,” Alburty said. “The surface sampling kit will determine if there are harmful things in the environment. We’ll not only develop it as a product for the government, but we’ll sell the device commercially as well.”
Since its launch in 2009, InnovaPrep has worked with such government programs as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The firm currently carries four microbiology products, Alburty said.
Alburty hopes that the firm’s continued growth will benefit Drexel, he said.
“Drexel is a good place to be because it’s a small town near a thriving large city,” he said. “We want to grow our company here, bring jobs here in Drexel and help the economy in our town. Above all, we want our products to help people and animals live better, safer lives.”
An alum of both Pipeline Entrepreneurs and Kauffman FastTrac, Alburty also partially credits the Kansas City entrepreneurial community for InnovaPrep’s successes.
“The Midwest is a really good place to start and grow technology companies,” Alburty said. “Collaborating with Kansas City entrepreneurs has been fabulous, another advantage we have in the Midwest is that we are very supportive and good at connecting people.”
InnovaPrep also announced this month that the firm launched the second generation of its Concentrating Pipette Select. The device is an automated, rapid bio-concentration device for modern microbiology.