University Spin Game
Success is rare and slow for spinoff companies, but the potential rewards -- visibility and income - keep schools playing.
Technology: Robot that makes multilayered laboratory samples by dipping slides into polymer solutions. Shown in photo: Joseph Schlenoff [Photo: Steve Leukanech]
Spun off: 2000
Sales: $120,000 to $150,000 by selling eight to 10 robots at $15,000 each
Market: University research labs
“We invented a widget. It was a useful widget. People asked us if they could buy them,” says Schlenoff. The robot, which uses technology licensed from Schlenoff’s research at Florida State University, speeds up the process of coating slides used in biotech applications and also makes the process more precise.
Working out of a small shop at Innovation Park, a research and development park affiliated with Florida State University and Florida A&M University, Schlenoff, his wife and their one employee work with local suppliers to produce the robots and sell them to institutions in the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East and Sweden. The firm markets only by word of mouth, trying to limit growth to a level that Schlenoff can handle. “I’m very concerned about keeping quality control.”
Schlenoff says he’s interested in selling the company, in part because there are other projects he’d like to develop.