Founder Feature: Northern Nanopore

eHub uOttawa
3 min readApr 6, 2023
Founder Feature: Northern Nanopore

Northern Nanopore is an organization co-founded 3 years ago by Kyle Briggs, Matthew Waugh, Vincent Tabard-Cossa, and Mathieu Gibeault, with a mission to accelerate solid-state nanopore research by making solid-state nanopores accessible to anyone. Northern Nanopore began with a patented method for fabricating solid-state nanopores called controlled breakdown and has expanded into AI/ML data analytics, cost-reducing experimental consumables, and more. Their instruments offer customers a bench-top system allowing rapid, inexpensive, and automated fabrication and experimentation with precisely sized solid-state nanopores for use in a variety of life and health sciences research. They offer user-friendly and customizable products that fit into any research budget. In the long run, they envision making solid-state nanopores at the core of next-generation single-molecule protein analysis platforms to enable precision medicine.

The company is a unique team of four scientists and engineers who have worked together for ten years to bring solid-state nanopore technology to market. The company’s core values include:
· Never fail the same way twice
· We are our own best customer
· Lead by example
· Accept feedback without ego
· Everybody mops the floor!

What does entrepreneurship mean to Northern Nanopore?
“One of the things that bind the core team together is the belief that everything we do scientifically should drive towards practical impact in the world — even if, as is normal when working in a startup, the vision for how that impact is realized evolves.” For the founding team, Northern Nanopore is a way to take the team’s academic research and ensure that it has a practical impact beyond the lab.

How are you entrepreneurial?
“I am very comfortable with the idea of getting things wrong. I learn by doing and by making mistakes. The value of “never fail the same way twice” encompasses the entrepreneurial mindset for me. The only truly wrong decision is one that doesn’t teach you anything. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a key attribute for entrepreneurs, and it empowers you to act productively in new scenarios (which is a common occurrence in the daily life of an entrepreneur!).”

Do you have any key takeaways for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“The best way to learn anything is by doing. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to achieve what we are building before starting, and I do not think a single thought from that process survived the first year of operations. If you want to build something, especially something with a long and complex roadmap, just start and figure out the details en route. Making mistakes is part of the process. If you wait until you are certain you know how to get it done, you won’t be able to keep up with the continuous evolution of the field.
Seek out mentors, but always with an eye to specific insights. This helps you be selective about the advice you follow (but of course, keep an open mind — you never know when a targeted conversation will evolve in an entirely new direction). In the course of building this company from out of a lab, I have had many mentors, and they have all provided value even though I have not always chosen to follow their advice. In my experience, the ones who bring the most value are those that may not actually give you the answers or directions. Instead, they challenge your assumptions. They force you to test your confidence in your own answers and to reflect on your decision-making frameworks.”

To learn more about Kyle and his company, click here!

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