Written by Stuart Foxman
Uniforms, paint and food packaging may seem to have little in common. Yet a Markham company called BIOSA Technologies (biosatech.com) is integral to ensuring they all work well.
BIOSA doesn’t make any of these products; it makes them better. How? “Our additives give extra quality to the end product,” says Nicholas Ledra, the company’s founder.
His answer simplifies what’s a complex process. BIOSA is an enzymatic biotechnology company, producing biocatalysts.
Ledra knows that goes over most people’s heads. So he explains what that means in practice. Take the uniforms worn by firefighters. They must be lightweight and breathable, and also fire- and chemical-resistant. That takes a specific type of fibre. Paints need special properties too. For ships, paint has to be able to resist extreme salt and tough marine conditions. For hospitals, meanwhile, paint has to resist microbes. And packaging for, say, chicken and hot dogs, has to be non-toxic, anti-microbial and biodegradable, while increasing the longevity of the meat.
BIOSA serves all these needs and much more. In lay language, the company modifies and engineers enzymes, using a customized proprietary treatment. The results can be applied in a wide range of industrial, commercial and research settings. That includes health care (e.g. pharmaceuticals), labs, food and beverage production, apparel, the energy and mining sectors, and more.
With BIOSA’s enzyme enhancements, clients can improve the performance of all sorts of products and systems.
Ledra is a biochemist by training, and also a certified nanochemical specialist. He’s expert in the science of BIOSA, but admits that he was lacking on the business side.
“Business developments isn’t something we think about in the science world. I know my strengths and my limitations,” he says.
So Ledra joined the the four-month LaunchYU Accelerator program, which helps entrepreneurs to build, launch and scale their venture.
The program is part of LaunchYU (launchyu.ca/), York University’s entrepreneurship unit. It supports entrepreneurs and their ventures at the school and in the community.
Through LaunchYU, entrepreneurs become better positioned to develop and grow their businesses. They get to learn about entrepreneurship, meet like-minded individuals and potential investors, solve business issues, and collaborate with university and industry partners. Ledra took part in a series of workshops, and received one-on-one mentoring.
“LaunchYU was instrumental in helping me set down a business plan, and work on commercialization,” says Ledra. “Through their mentorship, I experienced significant growth.”
Although Ledra was new to business, he had previous firsthand exposure to entrepreneurs. His parents ran several small businesses, including a car wash and a coin laundry. When he was young, Ledra helped them double check the accounting.
Was he ever tempted to join his parents’ businesses? They didn’t want him to, he says, feeling that it would require too much work and dedication on his part. Instead, they encourage him to go into science, which they felt would be an easier path.
Nothing about the field of enzymatic biotechnology sounds particularly easy. But thinking about his parents’ wishes, Ledra smiles about where his expertise has led. “I’m following their footsteps into business,” he says.
Photo credit: Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real