A TECHNOLOGY LIFELINE

Vicki Farrar of Light Line Medical presenting at the Entrepreneur & Investor Life Science Summit, an annual event held by BioUtah and PIVOT Center.

Vicki and Denny Farrar run companies. Quite prolifically, in fact. Between the two of them, they’ve co-founded and led 15 of them. These range from Myriad Genetics, which Denny co-founded, to Light Line Medical, which has Vicki at the helm, plus a head-turning roster of successful life sciences companies that have developed everything from the first digital hearing aid to stem cell therapy innovations.

So, when they talk business, you listen. The Farrars, who both come from legal backgrounds, have a keen sense for intellectual property with shining potential. They know how to protect it. And they know what it takes to bring that idea to life.

Vicki was drawn to her current company, Light Line Medical, when she saw a brilliant life-saving invention – and the need for experienced leadership to drive the nascent company’s leap to commercialization. There was not only business at stake – there was a chance to avert the global antibiotic resistance apocalypse making infection prevention more and more difficult.

Light Line has developed a way to use non-UV visible light to kill the microbes that cause catheter-related infections, delivered via a fiber optic inside a catheter in a patient’s body. Catheter-related infections are not only common but they’re also severe, difficult to treat, and can result in death. It’s a terrible risk to have associated with dialysis, urinary and vascular catheters as well as endotracheal tubes.

With a firm belief in the power of Light Line’s invention, Vicki stepped up and tenaciously worked for months to secure funding. She knew that a great idea isn’t enough alone – in fact, it’s just one early step toward a successful startup. She drew on her every resource, including her longstanding relationship with PIVOT Center, where inventors, executive leaders, industry experts and investors all intersect in circles of connection.

Mark Ehlert, a device veteran who is an investor and member of Light Line’s Board of Directors, explains how PIVOT Center serves as a hub where all the right elements come together to give startups like Light Line the lift they need.

“Here, investors’ ties to the University of Utah are important – knowing there’s a PIVOT Center to connect startups with resources,” he says. It was through these connections that he developed not only a familiarity with Vicki and Light Line, but also an understanding of the Farrars’ track record.

“Vicki and Denny have the knowledge to get companies off the ground. In fact, investors get involved based on reputation as much as what the company has to offer. It takes someone like them, with the vision to understand the technology and the ability to focus on where that tech needs to go, to understand what capabilities to seek in their team,” he explains.

With a clear eye on her goals, a sharp presentation, and deep reserves of energy and resolve, Vicki took her pitch all the way to the global Keiretsu Forum, where she impressed – and succeeded. In fact, Light Line was recently handpicked by hundreds of angel investors as one of the top three Most Valued Companies at the forum.

Light Line is poised to continue its growth and its impact on patients in hospitals everywhere, and Vicki credits the people resources and atmosphere in Utah as setting the company up to soar.

“PIVOT understands the business reasons why we want to do things. They understand the challenges of a startup. In fact, one of the best things about being in Utah has been their flexibility. They’re always willing to be adaptable, to revise, to get you what you need,” says Denny.

“The reason Denny and I are here in Utah is, the technology is so good – and it’s easier to license. My companies wouldn’t have existed in California,” Vicki says.

Fortunately, the collaborative and business-friendly atmosphere at the University of Utah is here to stay. And fortunately for Utah, it seems the Farrars are too.