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12-04-2015

Ampersand Biosciences: Spotlight on Startups at Clarkson University Shipley Center for Innovation

After working at companies that were bought out by larger ones, Laurie Stephen decided to form the biomedical research and development company Ampersand Biosciences.

Laurie Stephen Located in Saranac Lake, N.Y., the company does contract work for medical research businesses. It opened more than a year ago and has been operating full time since April 2015.

“Most of our market is people who look at different proteins in blood,” Stephen explains. “For instance, when you take a sample, you're looking for different markers that indicate different conditions. We develop kits to monitor different markers so doctors or researchers can look for various diseases.”

Originally from Montreal, Stephen, 48, has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She and her three colleagues have worked together before and they happily “read each other's minds sometimes,” she says. They are making plans to open their own marketplace next.

She moved to the Adirondacks in 2000, to work at Upstate Biotechnology. After its closing, she opened Multiplex Biosciences with a partner, which went on to be acquired by RBM. RBM was subsequently acquired by Myriad Genetics. This is home to her, so much so that she and her partners named the business after Ampersand Mountain.

“I've built a life here,” she says. “The timing is good for the company and it's nice to be able to work with other scientists in the area, such as scientists at the Trudeau Institute.”

Operating a business is a bit easier the second time around, but there's still a lot to consider. Her advice to other entrepreneurs is to have a good accountant in line from the beginning. The same advice goes for having a professional web designer.

“You'll want to do everything yourself but you but can't,” she acknowledges. “Decide where to focus, leave tasks out of your field to professionals, and do what you do. Also, it's good to have mentors. All advice can help.”

Matthew Draper is executive director of Clarkson University's Shipley Center for Innovation, which guides innovators through the complex process of commercialization, providing them with the necessary tools to transform ideas into reality. Beyond the Shipley Center and Peyton Hall, Clarkson University also is home to more big guns in the world of business and manufacturing -- the Center for Advanced Material Processing (CAMP), the School of Business, and the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship.

Additionally, Draper oversees the business incubator at Peyton Hall. As the name implies, this is where businesses of all types are born and grown. Among the incubator's offerings are mentorship, networking with Clarkson alumni, marketing, branding, legal counsel about intellectual property rights and processing for patents, copyrights and trademarks. Draper says 25 to 30 new startup companies are created through the Center every year, and another 75 to 100 projects could be startups.

Nationally, only about 10 percent of business startups succeed, but Draper and his team are aiming for double and triple that figure.

Ampersand Biosciences is on pace to be one of the successes. To learn more, look at the website www.ampersandbio.com.

For more information on the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson University, go to www.clarkson.edu/shipley.

Photo caption: After working at companies that were bought out by larger ones, Laurie Stephen (above) decided to form the biomedical research and development company Ampersand Biosciences. Located in Saranac Lake, N.Y., the company does contract work for medical research business.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/lstephen.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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