Ben Franklin


Piezo Resonance: Keeping Jobs in Pennsylvania

When Debora Demers’ employer offered to relocate her across the country to California—so she could commute daily into Mexico—she turned it down.

Debora Demers, Director of Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs, Piezo Resonance Innovations, Inc.

An expert in medical device quality assurance, Demers had worked for years at a large multinational company supervising quality at its many locations. When the company was taken over, however, and her choice was either to leave the company or go to Mexico, Demers opted to remain Pennsylvania.

“I wanted a challenge different from what was offered to me at a large international company,” says Demers. “I decided to join Piezo Resonance Innovations, which was a startup, because I was interested in what they were doing and I believed I had something to offer.”

Demers, a Penn State graduate, heard about Piezo Resonance Innovations (PRII) through her involvement in the central Pennsylvania medical community. Wanting to stay near her home, Demers found a position at PRII and has never looked back.

“Working in R&D requires one to be flexible, creative, perseverant and able to learn new things quickly—skills I knew would transfer to my new position at PRII,” says Demers, who now serves as the Director of Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs. “Being at PRII allows me so many opportunities I never had working at a large company.”

Custom Components for the Medical Equipment Market

PRII is a leader in designing, prototyping and manufacturing medical devices. PRII develops advanced medical devices by integrating precision motion technologies, and then markets the technology to large medical original equipment manufacturers. Based in Bellefonte, PA, and founded in 2006, PRII currently has 10 employees.

PRII is currently manufacturing custom piezoelectric components for a major medical equipment manufacturer. The company operates under an FDA compliant quality system and is ISO certified for medical device design and manufacture.

“Startup environments—particularly in R&D—require one to be flexible, creative, perseverant and able to learn and do new things quickly.”—Debora Demers, Director of Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs, PRII

Critical Early Financial Support

PRII received $320,000 in seed funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania (BFTP/CNP). Most recently, PRII was awarded a total of $903,000 in Small Business Innovation Grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PRII is also a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise and recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Technology Company of the Year (as voted by the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County).

Maureen L. Mulvihill, President of PRII, was recently named as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Awards.

“Maureen is a great leader,” says Demers. “She has assembled a team that works together seamlessly, and continues to move forward with new research and products.”

Part of a Bright Future

PRII’s recently awarded funds are being used in the further development of Tube-Clear™—a device that clears clogged and sluggish feeding tubes. The NIH grants are being used to develop four additional medical devices to enhance clinical procedures, resulting in improved patient quality of life. PRII is also preparing to launch clinical studies, a big step for a small company in moving their devices forward.

Demers remains bullish on small companies. “This isn’t my first experience with a startup. I like being involved in multiple areas and seeing the organization grow. Startup environments—particularly in R&D—require one to be flexible, creative, perseverant and able to learn and do new things quickly.”

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This article was featured in
Keynotes October, 2010
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