The BBy company has developed a technology that transforms liquid breast milk into powdered breast milk, which can be stored on a common shelf. The device makes life easier for nurses in the NICU, who can spend an entire shift waiting for breast milk to thaw to prepare bottles.
What you need to know:
The company’s idea is to stop what CEO Vansh Langer called a “70-year freeze-thaw process.” See below how the device works (and why it matters).
How the breast milk “transformer” works
Langer founded the New York-based company in 2015 with bioengineer and food scientist Blanca Rosa Aguilar Uscanga. She wrote an article about the challenges of creating breast milk powder in a way that retains the bioactive elements that make breast milk… breast milk.
Together they investigated the problem, and Langer developed a two-factor laser device that runs on commercial capacitors. Using Uscanga’s algorithm, the device takes the weight of breast milk and adjusts the rate and temperature of the milk, sent into a vacuum so it stays in what Langer called a “bioactive zone.”
The result is a powder that retains nutritional and immune-boosting properties and is stable for up to six months. BBy packs the powder in aluminum packets of approximately 30 and 60 grams. The company delivers them to hospitals every two weeks.
Nurses mix the required amount of powder with water. Not only does this process reduce waste, but it also eliminates the need for multiple freezers to store large quantities of breast milk, the CEO explained.
BBy processes ten liters of breast milk twice a day in eight regional processing plants. They are close to 17 current client hospitals, spread across Massachusetts, Connecticut and Texas. Its main research facility is in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The company’s technology is patent pending and has more than 50 published and peer-reviewed scientific papers. Additionally, the FDA (US Anvisa) has designated the BBy technology as a food-grade device that does not require further medical review, Langer said.
BBy has an average turnover of US$800,000 (about R$4 million, at current prices) per month, which is close to US$10 million (R$50 million) in annual revenue, the CEO said. He plans to double that over the next year, even with hospital contracts with long sales cycles.
While the company is focused on hospitals, a future product pipeline could include developing more user-friendly versions of its device. Thus, for example, women would be able to condense their own milk.
It was time for us to get out of the lab and really kick off all of our hospital contracts. We are working to become the de facto way for hospitals to store and manage breast milk.
Vansh Langer, CEO of BBy
With information from Tech Crunch
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