COVID-19 highlights importance of Waterloo blood startup

Thursday, July 23, 2020

By Natalie Quinlan and Beth Gallagher. This is an excerpt of an article originally published on Waterloo Magazine.

Shane Kilpatrick (MSc ’17, MBET ’18) is the CEO of Membio

Shane Kilpatrick (MSc ’17, MBET ’18) is the CEO of Membio, a Canadian startup creating technology to manufacture red blood cells. In the Waterloo Magazine, he touches on the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 presents for Canadian innovation.

How has the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the need for Membio technology?

When the pandemic was in its early phases, there was a severe shortage of blood, both in Canada and the U.S., because of the widespread cancellation of blood drives due to physical distancing. This highlights the fragility of a blood supply system totally dependent on donors and the need for a completely donor-free and pathogen-resistant solution such as our NeoBlood. It is a small miracle that the blood supply has been successfully maintained throughout this crisis. For this, a big thank you to all the transfusion medicine professionals, from volunteers to hematologists, is long overdue. What goes on behind the scenes to give the rest of us the impression that blood is in endless supply is truly incredible.

How can Canada support startups through this pandemic and the shutdown of so many businesses?

Without a doubt, not every good or even great company will be able to weather this storm. Moving forward, it would be great to see Canada invest more heavily in innovation. For example, if the government was willing to match outside investment in selected companies, that would go a long way to helping the best startups move and grow quickly right here in Canada.

Read the full story on the Waterloo Magazine.

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