Smaller Companies Find Room to Succeed and Grow

4 minute read

Clinical Ink software on an iPad.

Though they may sometimes be overshadowed by their larger and better-known neighbors, small companies play a major role in the dynamics of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

Three of these smaller firms, all engaged in cutting-edge biomedical technologies, illustrate how the Innovation Quarter can be an ideal location for smaller businesses to not only succeed but grow.

Carolina Liquid Chemistries, a provider of high-quality chemistry instruments and reagents for all sizes of clinical laboratories, holds a couple of notable distinctions in the Innovation Quarter’s brief history. Founded in California in 1997, the company moved its headquarters to Winston-Salem in 2008 and was the first firm to take advantage of the WetLab Launch Pad, a program that offered affordable laboratory and office space in the Richard H. Dean Biomedical Research Building. Then in 2012 Carolina Liquid Chemistries became the first commercial tenant in Wake Forest Biotech Place, occupying 9,250 square feet on the building’s fourth floor.

“We love it here, being in the Innovation Quarter has helped our business,” said Patti Shugart, COO of the company. “The Innovation Quarter has a great atmosphere with lots of energy. It is a community that interacts with each other. You know you’re a part of something bigger, instead of being off by yourself somewhere.”

Carolina Liquid Chemistries recently added a new chemistry analyzer, the CLC720i, to its branded product line. Designed to meet the needs of mid-volume clinical laboratories, the CLC720i complements the company’s devices for smaller clinical facilities and large-core and reference labs.

KeraNetics is another firm that started operations in the Dean Building in 2008. A biomaterials company focused on researching, creating and commercializing keratin-based products for therapeutic and regenerative medical applications, it was spun out of research done at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

By last year KeraNetics had outgrown its original quarters and was looking for a larger home. But it didn’t have to look far: In December it completed a move into 9,000 square feet of laboratory, manufacturing and office space in One Tech Place, just steps away from the Dean Building in the Innovation Quarter.

In addition to simply offering more room, the relocation to One Tech Place has provided KeraNetics with the ventilation, hygiene and process-control features necessary for manufacturing substances for use in humans.

“We feel very lucky to have this space become available to us,” Kim Westmoreland, KeraNetics’ CEO, said at the grand opening of the new facility. “The space perfectly fits our needs for the next decade with not a lot of additional expense. It is the right place at the right time.”

Clinical Ink, on the other hand, is one of the Innovation Quarter’s more recent arrivals. A software development company that provides e-source solutions for clinical research sites, its lead product is SureSource, an electronic platform that provides users with a paperless system for recording data, comments, explanations and other information required in clinical trials.

Since moving into 525@vine last fall, Clinical Ink has added seven full-time employees, bringing its total to 30. And the company is currently working on a new office layout to make optimum use of its 7,700-square-foot location.

“We’ve settled in and we really like being here,” said Doug Pierce, Clinical Ink’s president. “The Innovation Quarter’s collaborative environment is ideal for a company such as Clinical Ink. The commonality between tenants makes fruitful discussions as easy as walking down the hall.

“For example, we’ve already had very interesting discussions with members of Wake Forest life sciences team about our respective markets and goals, and of course we’d like to see that develop into new business down the road. But just sharing ideas with the other people here is helpful and there’s a lot that can be gained from just that.”