QTEKTM¬ LLC provides an effective means of bestowing industrial plastics with long-lasting antimicrobial properties. QTEK is dedicated to creating a safer future by partnering with health and hygiene industry leaders to create a new landscape of product options focused on reducing infection transmission on common touch surfaces.
The I-Corps team consists of Mengya Li (EL), Dr. Bowen Li (AL), and Dr. Terry Cathopoulis (Team Member).
The team is currently identifying and interviewing potential partners in plastic production and medical device/supply production.
The QTEK team spent the week seeking out interviewees involved in three different parts of the antimicrobial plastics ecosystem: 1) Hospital administrators with purchasing power 2) Producers and distributors 3) Plastic manufacturers and providers. Interview plans were produced for each demographic to test hypotheses surrounding Customer Discovery and Validation.
We learned that the current landscape for infection prevention in hospitals, as it pertains to supplies and furnishings, is not receptive to the adoption of antimicrobial plastics. Existing hospital structure and procedure and the high cost of widespread replacement are the reasons cited for the hesitation.
Device/furnishing manufacturers and providers may serve as potential customers. They are interested in expanding/improving product lines and lowering costs. All interviewees polled look to third parties to provide their materials and suggest that plastic manufacturers are our most likely customers. Unfortunately, none we reached out to have agreed to interviews as yet.
This week, the QTEK team split its interview efforts between medical professionals and figures in the manufacturing industry. We tested hypotheses about which materials physicians and surgeons would most readily upgrade to counterparts with inherent antimicrobial properties. When talking to industry figures we focused on gathering information surrounding the EPA registration process and the time and money involved therein.
Interviews with two physicians and a surgeon gave us insight into a demand for inpatient bedding with latent antimicrobial action. The professionals confirmed a growing industry interest in goods with inherent bactericidal properties. The surgeon was eager to replace all durable surfaces in patients’ rooms for antimicrobial versions. The surgeon also mentioned interest in implantable technologies with antimicrobial properties, however we already know the process for FDA approval of such technologies to be arduous and, potentially, out of our realm of influence.
Lastly we spoke to an advisor to the Antimicrobial Copper Association who shared that going through efficacy and toxicity testing along with a filing for a public health claim is a lengthy and difficult process. However, we may be able file ‘treated article’ claims for individual items which is much more facile.