CEO|CFO Magazine Interviews Billy Meadow & Eric Doherty of Blink Science

CEOCFO: Mr. Meadow, what is the concept behind Blink Science?

Mr. Billy Meadow, Chairman: Blink Science was formed when we licensed an amazing innovation from the University of Florida for an electro chemical biosensor that can be produced like a diabetic glucose strip. This technology will enable a transformation of diagnostics and a wide variety of disease indications. It involves a glucose strip and a handheld detection device we call blinkTEST COVID. This particular technology has direct ramifications on high-volume testing for COVID, so our company has a huge opportunity in front of us to help resolve the pandemic with extreme high-level testing.

Mr. Eric Doherty CEO: From our standpoint it is our way to enter the marketplace and make a huge impact on worldwide Point of Care (POC) diagnostic healthcare. From a global standpoint, Blink Science’s mission is to be a global diagnostic medical device organization, not only for COVID but also for a number of other disease states like tuberculosis, oncology, and your typical infectious diseases like strep and flu. We are entering into the healthcare market with COVID and then broadening our testing applications to more than 50 additional assays.  

CEOCFO: How does it work, why does it work, and has it been tried in some form before?  

Mr. Doherty: The research work was completed at the University of Florida. The UF Research team initially started their research on troponin, which is a biomarker for heart attacks. They then moved over to the Zika virus. Last spring, when COVID hit, they started developing research technology on COVID. In September, we licensed the Intellectual Property and Patent Rights from the University of Florida. It is because it is new technology that can be mass produced, like glucose strips are made today, but with enhanced technology embedded in the strip.

The COVID tests that you are hearing about in the new today are in most cases PCR tests. Those tests are heterogeneous tests. They typically use different chemicals, different solutions, and different temperature gradients needed for each test. Our blinkTEST is a homogenous type of test. In seconds, like flipping a light switch, you get a result, whereas the PCR tests can take anywhere between five, ten, fifteen or more minutes to give a result.

CEOCFO: Is it a yes, no, negative or positive? Is there a gradation of the result?

Mr. Doherty: It will provide instant results, in seconds, whether or not a patient has COVID. The key differences-and the biggest benefits-are twofold. Number one, there are minimal false positive tests. Going back to the relationship between a heterogeneous and homogenous type of testing application, the homogenous tests reduce the number of false positives because they do not rely on solutions, chemicals, or temperature needs that can vary a result. Through the University of Florida research on COVID, they were able to show a sensitivity range of 98% and a specificity range of 98%. Through the work that we are currently doing, we are looking to increase both the sensitivity and specificity.

CEOCFO: Is the science accepted and does the medical community understand this type of technology? What has been the response from people that may know what you are working on now?

Mr. Doherty: Because the manufacturing process is similar to the diabetic glucose strip industry, there are many similarities. Our handheld device, blinkTEST, is a comparable device to the diabetic glucose strip reader. When the medical community understands that the technology is in the strip, and understands the speed of the test, and the reliability of the results, they will want to use this test to diagnose all of their suspect COVID patients.

CEOCFO: What medium would you be testing and what can you test in the future?

Mr. Doherty: The Blink Science Platform is fluid-based. The testing platform can use any type of fluid. In this case, we are taking saliva, but with other tests it may vary. The medium depends on the test. Because of the sensitivity that we will be able to get with this type of test, we will lean towards saliva; but for other markers, other assays, we may use blood or urine. From a non-healthcare application, there are also many options in the food industry, agriculture, pet and livestock industries, where our Blink Science Platform could be used. We could use our strips to test food and ingredients. In agriculture, we could test water, and chemicals being used. In the pet and livestock markets, we could test for all sorts of animal infectious diseases.

CEOCFO: What is the product? Is there a device and various strips? What are the components that someone would need to administer the test?

Mr. Doherty: blinkTEST COVID can be handheld or placed on a desktop or a clinic bench top. It is the size of a mobile phone. The blinkSTRIPs are very similar in configuration to glucose strips. You place the strip into the device and push the button. That’s it. It will instantly give a readout. Green means go, that you do not have COVID. A red X shows you do have COVID. In the event you receive a red X, we recommend that you follow the current CDC guidelines.

CEOCFO: Blink Science is aiming at a global market. Are there particular areas that you see the ability to enter first or easier?

Mr. Doherty: We will be filing two Emergency Use Authorization’s (EUA’s) with the FDA. We will be filing the first EUA for healthcare provider usage and the other for at-home use. We will also be filing for a CE designation which is the European Union designation. We will also file for a Health Canada approval. We are looking at saturating the globe with blinkTEST COVID’s and blinkSTRIPs to help end the Pandemic. We do not want another person to die from COVID. We will be entering into the EU, APAC, NORAM, and LATAM markets.

CEOCFO: Are you funded for your next steps?

Mr. Meadow: We have been funded to date by me and some other angel investors. Frankly, our entire team of 47 is taking very little salary and taking classic sweat equity because we are all committed to using this technology to help put the pandemic behind. Even with the vaccine being available there still will be the need for large scale testing. We have a fundamental technology that can do that and we have a tremendously dedicated team working full throttle to get there. We are currently looking for additional capital rounds, but we think we will be able to generate significant revenue from our customers who are lined up to acquire our technology and license our software.

Mr. Doherty: We have a second vertical that is on the IT healthcare side called blinkPASSPORT, that will be available in February. blinkPASSPORT is a passport system that registers vaccinations, as well as testing information within a HIPAA compliant app. With the vaccination rollout, there have been a lot of issues such as slow distribution, side effects, and vaccination suspensions due to not working against the new UK variant. There will be ongoing reasons that testing will need to continue to be done. One, there are a lot of people who still have not been vaccinated. Two, some people will not be vaccinated because they do not want to be. And, lastly, those who cannot be vaccinated because of health issues: either they are pregnant, or they have other underlying health issues which prohibit them from being able to get vaccinated. All of the so-called vaccination passports are missing one very key element. The need for testing. We will be the only provider of instant testing. We will be capturing data from large testing organizations, like Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics, as well as other testing providers-like a Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, etc.-that is doing testing and be able to push that up into a cloud-based system. This, along with vaccination data, will allow for a true, authentic entry passport, that no other entity will have.  

CEOCFO: So many companies are involved in different aspects related to COVID, why are you confident even though it is a game-changing technology, that you will be able to get the traction and interest Blink deserves?

Mr. Doherty: We do not have a demand issue. Who does NOT need to be tested? I have never seen demand like we are seeing with this technology and it revolves around two things. One is that we have the potential to deliver an extremely large volume of testing devices and strips so that we can meet the testing needs of all the healthcare organizations in the US, and the world. Number two, blinkTEST COVID will provide instantaneous results. If someone needs to come into a facility and cannot wait in line for fifteen or twenty minutes for test results to come back, that individual can get tested and have a result provided in seconds, and then enter the venue safely.

There is nothing quite like it. People who are currently spending tons of money on different tests, should recognize that.   

CEOCFO: You seem to have manufacturing lined up. Where are you manufacturing? How will you have the capacity should everyone jump on board the way they should?

Mr. Doherty: Our whole initiative is to keep as much of the manufacturing based here in the US. Because of the high volumes needed for the blinkSTRIPs and blinkTEST COVID devices, we may need to go outside of the US for volume production needs.

We have already enlisted help from largest healthcare distribution organization in the world. We are also in the process of enlisting the help of the largest shipping organization in the world to ship out our product globally, on EUA approval, overnight. We have put plans in place so that once we get that approval through the FDA’s EUA, we will be able to get this out into the US marketplace rapidly to help squash this epidemic. As we get the other global approvals, the same distribution will occur. Rapid global distribution.

CEOCFO: What do you understand about working with the FDA?

Mr. Doherty: This is something that the FDA is asking for-rapid and reliable instant COVID testing. They want the fastest test that they can get for COVID, and we are going to bring to them that solution. It becomes more of a question of how what data we can provide to the FDA.  We are looking to provide them data that is specific, sensitive, and reliable. As long as we have that I think we are going to be in great shape with the FDA.

CEOCFO: What have you learned along the way that may have surprised you in the process of getting to where Blink is right now?

Mr. Meadow: I would say the eagerness of people in business in these large corporations that we are working with. They are open to changing their business modalities to help us accelerate the deployment of this technology. When we need something done right away, they jump right on it and we are seeing that across the board. We are seeing tremendous cooperation and collaboration.

You are also seeing that in the Commons Project (CommonPass for air travel) and the vaccination committees where companies like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, and Microsoft are all collaborating to put data together so that we can get the world back to normal. We are seeing it with all the manufacturers and suppliers and everybody we are working with. It is a good thing. A lot of people know that testing is going to resolve the problem more so than just vaccination.


CEOCFO: Final thoughts?

Mr. Doherty: I was just going to add to Billy’s commentary. As he mentioned earlier, we have not run into anybody that does not want to help. I think from that standpoint, that is a game-changer for us. We are a very unique startup, and we are talking to some of the largest corporations in the world like, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM Watson. They are willing and able to help. And-like us-they want to help end the pandemic. That is our collective goal. Obviously to grow the business with our tests that have come down the line: but we want to make a huge splash with Blink Science on the global front and to be the diagnostic company that helps end this deadly pandemic.