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A Conversation With ... Matt Price and Keela Davis

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Tell us about Inveno Health, which is owned by St. John’s.
    Matt Price: Inveno is basically designed to commercialize the products that come out of St. John’s research. Commercialization (is) setting up the manufacturing, figuring out a marketing plan and finding a distribution network and sales channels that we’re going to use. Sometimes, it’s just going out and finding the person we’re going to license the technology to. Sometimes, it’s going to be (us) manufacturing it … packing it, shipping it – acting like every other small business in the world.
What products has Inveno helped bring to the market since opening in June 2009?
    MP: There are two main ones. One is a new hand sanitizer, called Hands First (and) a surgical table for infants. (Hands First) is an alcohol-free hand sanitizer that we’ve … helped develop. It’s OK to put on cuts and scrapes, and it doesn’t dry out your hands. (It lasts) a significant amount of time – three hours.
    Keela Davis: Theraworx was the first round of that particular project. It originally started as a cleansing agent for people who are in the (intensive care unit) as a bed bath.

When will we see Hands First at stores?
    MP: We’re shooting for mid-August. It’s actually licensed to Avadim, one of (Theraworx inventor) Dr. Roger Huckfeldt’s companies. They have some agreements to get it into retailers – Walmart, Walgreens, CVS – and (recently) finished shooting the TV commercial that we’ll be airing with it. …  It’s going to be bottled at Aire-Master in Nixa.

How do you decide which products or projects Inveno will handle?
    KD: All ideas start within St. John’s Medical Research Institute, in the (research and development) division (from) physicians, nurses, other health (system) workers. … Or outside investors come to us. We’re open to anyone bringing us an idea, and then … we take every single idea that’s brought to us and look at five different factors: market potential; what’s already out there; published materials on it; the ability to patent it; and regulatory and financial issues that we’re going to encounter with the product. It usually takes us four to six weeks … and then we have an administrative team review all of those abstracts and determine whether we should move forward, wait until a better time or decline. If we decline, the idea can go back to the inventor and they can pursue other avenues.

How many projects are in the works right now?
    KD: We have about 30 that are somewhere in our development process, maybe they’ve been through our discovery process and are waiting for time and money to be applied to them. We’ve probably turned down about 10 or 15 ideas.

How are Inveno’s projects funded?
    KD: We have a set amount of funding that St. John’s allocates to research and development – usually about $250,000 – for getting started and to prove the concept. If it works, we have a couple of different options. For one of our projects, the eye antiseptic Povinol, we went to the Missouri Life Sciences Trust Fund, and requested some money to develop and commercialize that. We were successful in receiving about $574,000. One of the other options that we have is, we’re a part of (Jordan Valley Innovation Center), and JVIC … formed a group (to) work with our senators and congressmen to bring in money from the federal government. We are receiving, here in about two or three months, $5.5 million from the Department of Defense to commercialize five deliverables – four of them are products – for Walter Reed Medical Center (including) an ophthalmic adhesive (that) will have drug delivery capabilities.

What else is on Inveno’s horizon?
    KD: A product for jaw wiring is closer to leaving our hands. (With traditional wiring) there’s a very high risk of disease transmission … because they’re lacing these tiny wires that are very sharp and can penetrate through the glove. … Dr. Bharat Shah has come up with a plastic alternative (that) functions really similarly so you don’t have to go through extensive training. … You can cut it (more easily), and there are fewer connection points.
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