PolyProbiotic startup wins awards at I-Corps

By Matthew Saunders

Cal Poly Pomona has some incredibly gifted students. Graduate student Taylor Lane and her team of CPP students are definitely not an exception. Lane’s team won two awards at this year’s Innovation Corps challenge, hosted in San Jose by the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology.

The team won Crowd Favorite and the Judge’s Recognition Award for its startup project.

Called the PolyProbiotic, the team’s startup company focuses on a probiotic ring product for women. The ring releases beneficial microorganisms to maintain vaginal health. According to the startup’s website, the PolyProbiotic aims to provide a “safer, user-friendly product to help ensure the health of pregnant women and their unborn children.”

While working on her master’s degree in biology, Lane longed to work in the field and started PolyProbiotic to gain experience.

“I wanted to participate in this competition,” said Lane. “With getting your master’s degree, I realized a lot of education that happens is not industry-focused. I wanted to develop a brand new idea, and now was the perfect time since there was little to no financial risk.”

Lane sought out the advice of Professor Jill Adler from the biological sciences department. After learning of bacterial vaginosis, Lane decided to attempt developing a vaginal probiotic.

“I learned from Dr. Adler that probiotics for vaginal disorder was a very underdeveloped field,” said Lane.

Lane’s team was nervous the weekend of the competition and faced technical difficulties. However, they rose to the occasion and won this year’s CSUPERB’s I-Corps challenge.

“It was really nice to win,” says team member and biology graduate student Ian Prins. “We were shocked that we were the crowd favorite of the competition. Thankfully, we had a solid idea and a team of students whom all helped filled each unique niche in the team. The victory also gave the team a lot of connections in the industry. The board was very helpful, and offered their future support in the startup.”

Lane agreed that it felt good to win the competition.

“We put a lot of time and effort into this project,” said Lane. We have been working on this project for roughly 10 hours a week for three months straight.

“It was just a good feeling to see all of our hard work pay off in the long run. A lot of people responded positively to our product.”

Lane’s team plans to take this victory a step further and become a company. The victory in San Jose gave Lane’s team the confidence they needed to pursue more research and potential investors.

“We are planning to go for it,” says Lane. “We are going to pursue this project until we run out of the funds to do it with. We are currently looking for funds. We actually believe we have a shot at making this happen.”

Rodriguez-Garcia is ready to make it official.

“We are planning to file papers that would make us an incorporated company,” says Rodriguez-Garcia. “Taylor would be the CEO of the company. Everyone else on the team would have a position in the company if they wanted it and if they are up for the challenge. In theory, everything should work out.”

Lane’s team received grant money from CSUPURB. The grant cannot be used for their startup business, but it can be applied to any school-related finances.

PolyProbiotic

Courtesy Ian Prins

PolyProbiotic

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