Boreas Monitoring System data alerts lab personnel to cryogenic tank failures. (Photo courtesy of Boreas Monitoring Systems)
A Wilmington startup is among the 12 finalists for SEED grants from NC IDEA, the organization announced this week.
Boreas Monitoring Systems, the only area finalist, will now compete for one of six $50,000 grants, which NC IDEA will announce in mid-May. Those grants are “intended to support business activities that validate target markets, reduce the risk associated with early-stage companies, and help companies reach the point of suitability for growth through investment or revenue,” according to NC IDEA’s website.
Boreas Monitoring has developed and patented a weight-based monitoring system for metal tanks of up to 150 pounds containing cryogenically frozen eggs and sperm. Monitoring the weight of the tanks, which contain liquid nitrogen, gives labs a more timely alert about tank failure, company co-founder Will Baird said Wednesday. The system generates data, which is uploaded to the cloud. Lab personnel receive texts of weight variations.
“Current monitoring methods use temperature monitors,” he said, explaining that an alert that the liquid nitrogen is warming due to a leak of some sort may not provide enough time for lab personnel to rescue the contents and keep them at the required very low temperature.
“In 2018 there were two very high-profile tank failures where thousands of patients’ embryos and sperm cells were lost,” Baird said. Customers sued in those cases.
Boreas founders Will Baird, his father William Baird III and Chad Johnson formerly owned and operated Wilmington Reproductive Laboratories, partnering with a reproductive endocrinologist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. In 2016 they began thinking about the need for a better tank monitoring system; in 2019 they received their patent and have built their business in the years since. Last April they sold Wilmington Reproductive Laboratories, which is now the Wilmington Fertility Center.
The company employs Chris Venter, a strategist and financial officer, as its chief technology officer. For the past six months, Boreas Monitoring has conducted Beta testing with six fertility clinics across the U.S.
“The feedback we’ve gotten is that we are bringing a product to market that changes the landscape,” Will Baird said. “Our goal is to go live in the next two to three months.”
What would a $50,000 grant enable the startup to do?
“Thus far we’ve been hyper-focused on building out the system,” Will Baird said. “The grant would let us build out our sales and marketing approach and grow our team. It would allow us to turn the lights on in the business and start selling to clinics.”