Ellen Brune


Finalist 2015 for North America

Ellen Brune

Boston Mountain Biotech, UNITED STATES
Provides lab technology at the R&D stage that speeds up the process of bringing new drugs to market.
During her studies in chemical engineering, Ellen Brune addressed the problem of inefficiencies of the drug manufacturing process. Having invented a new technology that tackles this issue, Ellen founded Boston Mountain Biotech after earning a PhD at the University of Arkansas. As of 2015, the company has 8 employees. Two of them are scientists and the other 6 are involved in the various aspects of business, law and finance.

Increasing the efficiency
Boston Mountain Biotech developed a platform for manufacturing protein therapeutics using genetic engineering. By simplifying protein drug development, Ellen and her team were able to make the process doubly efficient. With the increased efficiency comes a waste minimisation. “Pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing more product with less waste that has to be cleaned up prior to being given to a patient.”

10 years to develop a new medicine
The process of developing a new therapeutic drug is long, expensive and sometimes inefficient. “Bringing a new medicine to the market can cost half a million to a million dollars in 10 years”, says Ellen. The efficiency of the manufacturing process is usually of 30%, which means pharmaceutical firms are creating 70% of waste while conducting research and development. As a contract research organization, Boston Mountain Biotech helps pharmaceutical companies make drugs faster, cheaper and with fewer losses.

“The pharmaceutical industry as a whole spends 8 billion dollars every year purifying the products.”

“The scientific field is a very male-centered area. One of the benefits of being a female is that you are forging new ground and setting new standards. Less than 5% of new start-up companies are led by women and even a smaller number are scientific start-ups. There are no standards.”
Stepping out of one’s comfort zone
Fundraising for a start-up company can be a difficult task for entrepreneurs who are not familiar with finance. Nonetheless, Ellen was willing to try and enhance her business skills. “Coming out of graduate school we needed financing to help develop our invention in order to bring it to the market. I am trained in science, not in business. But the main quality needed to be a successful female entrepreneur is self-motivation. You have to be the one willing to step out of your comfort zone.”