A startup that offers a faster way to sell difficult-to-access research materials from the laboratories of academic investigators has opened its new headquarters in Boston's Innovation District.
KeraFAST Inc. broke ground Wednesday on its new 3,000-square-foot offices at 27 Drydock Ave., where it’s moving from Winston-Salem, N.C. Robert Bondaryk, president and CEO of KeraFAST, told Mass High Tech that the company was just founded late last year at the offices of its former parent company, the medical device firm KeraNetics, itself a spinout from Wake Forest University, but most of the executives had been in the Boston area already.
An undisclosed Series A round from KeraFAST’s main investor, FCA Ventures in Nashville, Tenn., was used for the move, said Bondaryk.
Bondaryk said the eight-employee company offers a university licensing program called The Investigator’s Annexe, which provides a catalog of otherwise difficult-to-access research materials, such as bioreagents, from the laboratories of academic investigators both nationally and internationally.
He said that universities, which are required to make materials used in research available to anyone, typically have a backlog of requests waiting to sign a so-called material transfer agreement. Bondaryk said that as a result, it takes an average of about three months - six in Europe - for universities to be able to provide requested materials, usually for free. “It’s an enormous backlog. It has slowed down research,” he said.
KeraFAST speeds it up by signing a licensing agreement with universities around the nation and the globe - now including Harvard and MIT - and charges a fee for the material, giving the school a portion. The company allows the college to make money on the materials, said Bondaryk. KeraFAST handles the requests, and sends the university a pre-paid shipping label to use to send the materials.
“We’re all over the place, putting our tentacles into (universities’) freezers to sell stuff, and at the end, we send them a royalty check,” he said. “The whole point of this is to give money back to science.”
The process to find the new office was helped by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s life sciences program, LifeTech, and representatives from MassBio and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.
“We are thrilled for Bob Bondaryk and the team at KeraFAST as they take this exciting step and make the Innovation District of Boston their home,” said Robert K. Coughlin, president and CEO of MassBio, in a statement. “KeraFAST is a valued MassBio member, and an example of the vibrancy and breadth of the Massachusetts life sciences supercluster today. KeraFAST will surely thrive in the ecosystem of innovation and collaboration here in the commonwealth.”
Source: Mass High Tech, Don Seiffert