Ellen Brune, who started a manufacturing company that makes pharmaceutical proteins using a method she helped develop at the University of Arkansas, is one of 18 women in the world who have been selected as finalists for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.
The Cartier Women's Initiative is an international business plan competition that identifies, supports and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs. Brune, 28, is one of two women from the United States who will compete in France in October for a prize package that includes $20,000 and a year of coaching in business development and marketing.
Brune, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, founded Boston Mountain Biotech after helping develop a patented method to simplify the production of pharmaceutical proteins used in drugs that treat a variety of diseases and health conditions.
“I am very excited to be named a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award and to showcase my business at the fantastic venue in France this fall,” Brune said.
Boston Mountain Biotech which operates as a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park – holds the exclusive license to market the trademarked Lotus purification platform.
Brune created a series of custom strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli that produce minimized sets of contaminants or “nuisance” proteins, simplifying the purification process on the front end of protein pharmaceutical production.
“It can cost half a billion to $1 billion in 10 years for pharmaceutical manufacturers to deliver a protein therapeutic from a lab to the manufacturing stage,” Brune said. “Our company uses genetic engineering to make the purification process more efficient. We’re trying to help large pharmaceutical companies get their drugs to market cheaper and faster.”
In addition to receiving a total of more than $1 million in research grants through the National Science Foundation and Arkansas Biosciences Institute, Brune participated in the graduate entrepreneurship certificate program at the UA and participated on a team that built a business plan around her discovery. The team won $43,350 in prize money in graduate student business plan competitions.