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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 1 year ago

Nurse, with startup on hiatus, turns to the crisis

Lauren Wright uses her supplier network and contacts to aid frontline medical workers.

The coronavirus pandemic halted most of the progress Lauren Wright had made with the promising Tampa startup she co-founded in 2018, the Natural Nipple.

Behind a line of bottles to help nursing mothers overcome latching problems, the firm was near the prototype phase. Among its accolades and grants: It was awarded $53,000 for customer discovery research by the National Science Foundation, was selected as the Most Promising Health Care Innovation of 2018 by Florida Blue Healthcare, won the first Clinical Quickfire Challenge and investment by Johnson & Johnson for $50,000, and was one of eight area companies selected to pitch for Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Tour.

But anything in health care or a medical-related field has been totally focused on fighting coronavirus in some form — which Wright, a nurse practitioner, embraces. She wants to help too. “I want to find something relevant to do while on hiatus,” Wright says.

“This isn’t a super-conducive climate to raise money for pre-revenue companies,” she adds.

Wright has instead shifted her focus to connecting her manufacturing network, which also creates medical masks and supplies, directly with hospitals. One of her first big accomplishments was to match St. Petersburg-based PathOg3n Solutions, which has a footwear sanitizer station, among other cleaning technology products, with The Medical Reserve Corps in New York City. A clinical and research advisor for PathOg3n, Wright worked with the firm’s COO, Scott Beal, to secure six PathOg3n sanitizing units for the Corps. The units, donated overnight and worth $174,000, are able kill COVID-19 on personal protective equipment in eight seconds, according to a statement.  

Wright is also helping the Society of Nurse Scientists, Inventors, Entrepreneurs and Leaders in that group’s effort to help desperate hospitals get face masks. “The real challenge,” Wright tells Coffee Talk, “is to figure out where the biggest need is.”

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