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Open Access Surface-Tethered Antimicrobial Peptides: An Invention To Create Effective Antimicrobial Coatings

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The need for alternative antibiotics to combat the rising challenge of antibiotic resistance has driven several discoveries at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), particularly those in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant program. The IGERT at WPI is focused on establishing the entrepreneurial mindset among Ph. D. students as well as offering professional development training, grant writing experience, and entrepreneurial activities. The product of our research during IGERT was the invention of surface-tethered antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that killed a variety of bacteria without promoting antibiotic resistance, which could be used as a coating for medical devices. As we were also funded by NSF I-Corps™, we extensively studied product-market fit using customer interviews and the Business Model Canvas to determine the highest need market, which we found by pivoting into the urinary catheter market application. The product of both of these programs was our start-up company AMProtection, which focused on providing an antimicrobial coating platform to prevent medical device infection and combat the antibiotic resistance crisis. The goal of this publication is to describe the process—our IGERT research, invention, customer discovery, intellectual property, and pivot—that led to our innovation and the start of AMProtection. Further, we discuss business considerations, including the market, patent landscape, competitive analyses, and platform expansion of the AMProtection technology.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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