Women to Watch

2013's Entrepreneurial Women to Watch

Maria Flynn, Biotechnology Executive

By Michelle Juergen
Maria Flynn
Maria Flynn
Photo© Ryan Nicholson/Wonderful Machine

When you're waiting for that pill to kick in to ease your migraine, dragging your kid kicking and screaming to the doctor for a booster shot or holding your nose to down a fish-oil capsule, Maria Flynn feels your pain. That's why she's in the business of making those experiences a bit more tolerable.

Flynn is president and CEO of Orbis Biosciences, a Kansas City, Kan.-based startup that develops original controlled-release delivery systems for the pharmaceutical and consumer product industries. Traditional techniques for making controlled-release solutions (for things like medications, vitamins, flavoring agents and pest-control products) create non-uniform particles that can lead to variable delivery; Orbis' technology creates microspheres of an exact uniform size, allowing for highly precise release rates and dosage control.

The technology is being applied in numerous ways, such as developing a vaccination that includes the follow-up dose; taste-masking oral pills to neutralize flavor; and even working with antimicrobials for the U.S. Department of Defense to improve ready-to-eat meals for the Army.

"It's a challenge to get from the academic lab into a full-scale manufacturing process, so we'd like to be that facilitator of technology in the control-release space," Flynn says. Eventually, she adds, "we'd like to see a turnkey system that can go into a lot of different places."

Flynn, who has an MBA and degrees in civil and environmental engineering, formerly worked in business development for international healthcare IT firm Cerner. Wishing to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, in 2008 she joined with co-founders Bo Fishback and Cory Berkland at Orbis. Her diverse background gave her the ability "to go into industries and learn quickly and put pieces together," she says.

"There's a need for innovative working models, and I think an entrepreneurial setting is a great place to set that up," adds Flynn, who for the past four years has also been involved in Pipeline, a community for Midwestern entrepreneurs in technology and life sciences. "Work with the best people you can, the best partners you can find, and stretch each other farther than you think you might be able to go."

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This article was originally published in the January 2013 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Women to Watch.

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