This week’s cover story in Buffalo Business First focuses on the growing cohort of startup companies moving into manufacturing – an obvious step for any enterprise that plans to have a physical product.
Some of the stories involve companies building out their own manufacturing capabilities, while others detail timely connections between young companies and contract shops with specific industrial specialties.
But just because deals are getting done doesn’t mean it’s easy. Take Garwood Medical Devices, a biomedical startup commercializing technology which can sense infections and then report that data to doctors and a bioinformatic software package.
Garwood simultaneously has no manufacturing equipment but great need for a process that meets tight regulations, certifications and general standards of quality.
Any manufacturing partner will need to bring in plastic and electronic components, among others, from their supply chain.
And the partner must be willing to take on a smaller partner with the prospect for growth.
Each of those points are vital to any partnership, which rests on tenuous ground in the early going.
“As a startup, you have one shot to make the manufacturing work,” said Gregg Gellman, Garwood’s vice president and chief operations officer.
Garwood has found one potential local partner,
, a Larkinville-based contract manufacturer in the commercial printing industry which has begun working with biomedical startups. Tapecon does meet the crucial ISO 13485 certification, which means it can register a product with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tapecon is also close, meaning Gellman can make a simple drive from Garwood’s headquarters in downtown Buffalo to personally observe production.
Gellman said he hopes the manufacturing deal is finalized with Tapecon, but said it’s possible other companies have the possibility to bid. The goal is to finalize a project requirements document in the next few weeks, which will drive what the prototypes look like.
“We need someone who is going to be a long-term partner,” Gellman said. “It becomes, ‘Who can do the best job for the best interest of the company and its investors.”