FluidicMEMS Event October 1 2012: Davide Marini of Firefly Bioworks + Michael Weingarten of NCI SBIR

We started off the 2012-2013 FluidicMEMS event series with a bang by gathering ~70 folks from the academic and industry lab-on-a-chip/BioMEMS space to hear from Davide Marini, CEO and co-founder of Firefly Bioworks and Michael Weingarten, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s SBIR and STTR programs. Tremendous thanks to sponsors Dolomite Microfluidics, Replikins, and Oncolab and a shout-out to Kaytlyn Racz and the team at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center for generously hosting us!

First we heard from Michael Weingarten about the National Cancer Institute’s SBIR programs. (Link to Michael’s presentation: 2012-10-01 NCI SBIR presentation to FLUIDICMEMS) If you’re thinking about starting a company related to cancer technologies, definitely check them out. In particular, there are two SBIR contract topics focused specifically on microfluidic technologies for cancer (The deadline for receipt of all FY2013 contract topic proposals has been extended from Nov 13 to Monday, December 3, 2012 by 5 p.m. EST).

  • Topic 314: Development of Human Tissue Culture Systems that Mimic the Tumor Microenvironment

  • Topic 316: Development of CTC Isolation Technologies Enabling Downstream Single Cell Molecular Analysis

Michael Weingarten speaks about the NCI SBIR/STTR programs

Next we heard from Davide Marini about the nuts and bolts of how SBIR funding has been used by his startup, Firefly Bioworks, to fuel development and enable them to raise additional funds from other sources to successfully reach product launch. Unlike many of the companies featured at FluidicMEMS, Firefly Bioworks uses microfluidics as a manufacturing technology(vs. as a product itself). Firefly has an interesting Optical Liquid Stamping technology that uses a microfluidic + photolithographic process to manufacture barcoded hydrogel particles. Laminar streams of photopolymerizable fluids containing molecules of interest flow through microfluidic channels and when exposed to light through a mask, form hydrogel microparticles with precise shapes and content. Because of the flexibility of the technology they can create a huge range of different types of customized particles with many potential applications from mRNA profiling to anti-counterfeiting measures. Fascinating to see what applications they pursue next!

Davide Marini of Firefly Bioworks