#WeareCvilleBioHub: Martin Chapman, President, Indoor Biotechnologies
As part of our #WeareCvilleBioHub series, we chat with leaders in the BioHub on innovation, collaboration and the future for our biotech community here in Charlottesville.
What Does Indoor Biotechnologies do?
Indoor Biotechnologies specializes in research on allergic diseases and asthma; we make some of the most state-of-the-art tests for measuring allergens in the environment to try to reduce the risks associated with inadvertent consumption or exposure to foods among food allergic patients.
What advice do you have for small companies trying to innovate and do big things?
Our approach is to test things out, do a pilot, and just see if it works, without necessarily going out with big marketing surveys. That’s important for small, resource-constrained companies to do.
How do talent and culture drive growth at INDOOR Biotechnologies?
We have a culture where we expect people to get things done, but we are very flexible. Our people have very good work life balance. We provide great benefits and try to do a lot for our employees. Some of our employees have been with the company for nearly 30 years, and I think that’s because of the culture and environment we provide. What we found is that the more accommodating we can be for employees, the more we make their lives efficient, and more bearable, and therefore more productive.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurialism is a state of mind in the sense that you’re looking for constant improvement. That’s something that we as a company are always looking for. How do we improve our products? How do we improve our processes and systems? And how do we generate more ideas? To me, entrepreneurialism is all about making improvements, and developing new ideas and processes, which I think is important.
What’s the talent recruitment environment like here?
We always have a lot of good talent coming out of UVA, but also from other universities locally, like James Madison University, Virginia Tech, and VCU. That’s very powerful, especially if you want to get people at the beginning of their careers to work for a startup.
Can companies raise capital in Charlottesville?
We have people within the community that can finance entrepreneurs coming out of UVA with terrific ideas, at least in terms of angel investors. We also have people who can reach out to bigger investor networks in California and in New York. Our community is supportive and enables these things to happen.
What is still an unmet need for our region?
We need more biotech infrastructure, including more buildings to accommodate growing companies in Charlottesville and surrounding counties. Most of our industry is based on medical devices and instrumentation. About 40% of those companies grow to a certain point, but then they need big manufacturing facilities. Building out biotech infrastructure locally will require a combination of private efforts, investors, and state support as well.
What does collaboration with the CvilleBioHub community mean to you?
There are all sorts of issues that people have to deal with setting up companies. You can save a lot of time if you talk to the right people and get the right advice. That’s something that is very easy to do here. So when people come to me and ask for a legal opinion, or want to discuss finances, I can usually put them in touch with the right people, and the time savings is huge.
What does the future hold for the biotech industry in Charlottesville?
The potential for the region is huge. We need to get more investments and infrastructure together, but the potential is there. We have lots of good people and built out support networks. The future here is bright.