We spoke with Magdesian about her product, her pitch, her path to regionals and what she learned from D3’s founding director, Xavier-Henri Hervé:
What does ANANDA stand for?
It’s short for Advanced NANo Design Applications, and it’s also a Sanskrit word that means “bliss” or “extreme happiness” after the completion of a perfect job.
Tell us more about your product.
ANANDA uses nanotechnology to make drug discovery faster and more cost effective. Our mission is to improve biomedical research and diagnostics by applying micro- and nanotechnology to enable major breakthroughs in life science.
How are you going about this?
We develop micro silicone scaffolds — 2 cm x 2 cm round microfluidic chambers — for cells to grow in vitro exactly like they grow in vivo. Drug development is based on cell culture models that haven’t changed over the last 100 years. We are taking cell culture models to the next level.
Our patented devices have been used to accelerate drug discovery in multiple sclerosis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. They reduce reagent costs by 90 per cent and increase experimental yield by 200 times.
It’s now possible to grow mini spinal cords in the lab. The replica and miniaturization of tissues in our devices enable drug testing to become faster, less costly and less reliant on the use of animals for experimentation.
Where did your business idea come from?
It evolved out of my spinal cord PhD research. I made the first device by hand, but then a friend connected me to someone who asked for 10,000 units. That’s when I knew I had to leave academia and create a company.
What did that transition look like?
I was lost and struggling with financing, but D3 really saved my life. I’m a neuroscientist with no previous business training. D3 helped me in all aspects of the business. We have classes every week in sales, marketing, finances and more. Major law companies, accountants and government agencies help us find the best path for our company.
The other day I received an order from the United States, but how do we invoice the U.S.? What taxes are involved? Here at D3, you just need to ask the company next to you and they have the answer. This makes our lives much easier and less expensive too... I did not need to call the accountant.
Can you describe Pieter Roos’ involvement in the project?
Pieter is ANANDA’s chief operating officer and engineer.