Fred Kielhorn has spent time on the corporate front lines, and he has devoted more than three years to working behind the scenes. As his latest venture, DeNovix, moves into its sixth year of operation, he knows exactly what he enjoys doing best.
"What I really like to do is roll my sleeves up and get involved in a business," says Kielhorn, DeNovix's CEO.
Founded in 2012, the Wilmington-based company produces equipment for the life sciences industry that focuses on higher technology optics. DeNovix's devices measure light, can split light into many different wavelengths and then measure absorbance in DNA molecules at different levels.
The top product DeNovix produces is a combination spectrophotometer and fluorometer that gives scientists the opportunity to reduce clutter in cramped labs. In the past, they needed both devices and a computer to control them. By combining the entire operation into one compact instrument, those conducting experiments can get precise readings and not have to worry about shifting samples back and forth between two machines.
"Labs are jam-packed with equipment," Kielhorn says. "Ours is small and compact. It's one piece, and it has a touch screen. It also comes in different colors."
Kielhorn says that the spectrophotometer device is a "classic" and has been around for almost a century.
What differentiates the DeNovix version is that it can hold an exceedingly small sample in place to conduct experiments. Since much of the material used in specific trials comes in minute amounts, it's important not to waste any. DeNovix's version allows for precise handling of tiny quantities and provides extremely accurate readings.
The fluorometer allows scientists to excite a DNA molecule and then measure the amount of light that comes off it at various wavelengths. The combination of the two devices in one housing allows scientists to "measure from high concentrations to super low concentrations," according to Kielhorn. It also gives scientists more flexibility. The reviews speak for themselves - scientists named the device the 2017 SelectScience Reviewers' Choice for Life Science Product of the Year.
Although DeNovix has had success with its combination spectrophotometer and fluorometer, Kielhorn isn't happy to be one-dimensional. Kielhorn reports that there are "a couple of products in the pipeline" that will debut in 2017 or in early 2018, the result of DeNovix's investing a considerable amount of its earnings into R&D. Both products will belong to the same market niche that DeNovix has created for itself and continue to satisfy Kielhorn's desire to be involved in every step of a company's journey.
This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state's cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.