Alumni in Space – Launchpad Medical

Last week, 2015 alum Launchpad Medical successfully launched an experiment up to the International Space Station via the SpaceX Commercial Re-Supply (CRS-13) mission.

This unique opportunity was made possible through the CASIS/Boeing Award for Technology in Space, which is presented annually at the MassChallenge Awards. With the ability to test in a microgravity environment, which mimics the symptoms observed in osteoporosis, Launchpad Medical will assess whether Tetranite, their synthetic bone material, can accelerate bone repair within minutes.

We had the chance to catch up with Brian Hess, Founder & CEO, about his experience:

Take us back to the 2015 MassChallenge Awards – what was going through your mind when you first learned your company won the CASIS/Boeing grant?
It was incredible to realize we were awarded this unique opportunity to study our synthetic bone material in space. In one sense, it was validation of our material and potential, but it also made us realize the impact MassChallenge provides by opening doors like this.

What has the process been like leading up to Friday’s launch?
The whole process has been extraordinary, involving a massive level of coordination amongst different collaborators to make sure the product and experiment were ready on time. The teams at NASA, CASIS, and Boeing provided us the funding and access, while our collaborators at Bioserve and Iontox have provided specific expertise to the hardware systems and testing protocols to realize the experiment. The teamwork required to pull this together heightened the excitement and most likely solidified memories for the team.

How will research in space impact life on earth?
Growing bone in space is extremely difficult due to the micro-gravity and low stress on the skeleton. Despite this, if our bone adhesive material can stimulate bone growth in this environment, it shows preliminary evidence to treating patients on Earth with poor bone health, especially those with osteoporosis, after suffering injuries such as broken bones.

What role has corporate and non-profit collaboration played in your success?
This opportunity, which is only possible by such collaborations, through both the funding and access to the lab on the International Space Station, is allowing us to get additional research on our product in an accelerated fashion. No matter the outcome of the research, the data will help steer our company’s future efforts.

Has this experience changed the way you think about your company or the value of entrepreneurship more broadly?
Startups can be innovation engines that drive economic growth; however, we need support systems to accelerate our efforts and make it happen. The resources and network that MassChallenge provides is working evidence of a framework accelerating innovation. Due to this grant from CASIS/Boeing, we have a shot to gain exposure on a global stage.