Judy Lundy: President of Mill Creek Life Sciences
Mill Creek Life Sciences is one of the first companies to spin off from Mayo Clinic to the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. Started in May 2010, the company moved into the Minnesota BioBusiness Center in 2011. Mill Creek Life Sciences specializes in synthesis of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) grade human protein based products that support cell culture growth. The company’s product PLTMax is derived from human platelets and can replace fetal calf serum to grow stem cells and primary cells. PLTMax is used widely in regenerative medicine and in numerous clinical trials as a manufacturing component to generate stem cells. I had the opportunity to meet up with Judy Lundy, President of Mill Creek Life Sciences, to learn about her journey through the initiation phase of the company.
The idea to commercialize PLTMax® was conceived when public awareness regarding prions, small infectious particles composed of misfolded protein, was growing. “People were concerned about the transmission of prions and about xenogenic immune reactions that could occur from bovine calf serum used in manufacturing therapeutic applications containing cultured human cells. That’s when Dr. Allan Dietz called me up and asked me to write a business plan,” explains Lundy. Lundy, who has an MBA from Iowa State University, formulated a business plan and started to work with Mayo Clinic Ventures to draw a licensing agreement. “It took two years to get going,” she says. She remembers that during the company’s early stages her dining table was used as an office desk where she formulated business plans. The company also relied on volunteers helping out with various tasks. Looking back, Lundy remembers that the first capital they were able to raise was $25,000 from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. “It could have easily been $5 million,” says Lundy. That first check provided her and everyone involved with the development of the company with “the confidence and resilience needed to continue ploughing through the obstacles,” explains Lundy.
Approaching its 5th anniversary in May, the company currently occupies 5000 square feet, has 8 employees and has a customer base representing domestic and international companies. Lundy is currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer. She is thankful to have been given good advice from people who own businesses. She graciously offers her tips to budding entrepreneurs. It is important to be able to recognize the resources around you, to know your limitations and to be tenacious. “Look under every rock. An entrepreneur’s journey is filled with hurdles and everyone’s hurdle is unique. If pursuing entrepreneurship were easy, everybody would do it. And if there was a manual for the process, it would be a best seller. Keep your head and surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people and you will achieve your goals,” she says.
So what keeps Judy Lundy going? Hope. She believes that Mill Creek Life Sciences’ products support the growth of newer therapies that will provide hope for people with medical conditions for which better options are needed.