Banking in Blood

Insception Biosciences’ pioneering medical practices are proving to be a solid investment for future health

Richard Lockie, CEO, with one of Insception’s cryopreservation storage tanks.

5 Questions
with Richard Lockie

1. What does innovation
mean to your company?
Innovation is not necessarily about developing breakthroughs or patented technology; it’s small, incremental changes—having the ability to be flexible and partnering with other groups that may not be obvious partners.

2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
Expansion technology is important, because harvesting more stem cells provides us with a greater chance of success since we’ll have more stem cells to use. Our patented technology still needs to go through clinical trials, but we believe it will do exactly that.

3. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
Innovation is one of our company’s core values. We innovate in a number of ways, but primarily it’s how we treat our employees and the culture we create in our company. We hire great people, we empower them, and we encourage them to try new methods, both in the lab and outside. We also work hard to recognize our employees and the contributions they make to our mission.

4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce?
Recruiting and hiring the best talent, empowering them to make decisions and recommendations, and encouraging them to try new things both inside and outside of the lab.

5. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
[The ability to look] at ways to run your business by partnering with nontraditional organizations. I firmly believe we can learn and benefit from other industries and organizations, and those learnings will ultimately benefit our customers in the long run.

Umbilical-cord blood is a baby’s life blood until birth. It contains precious cells, like red blood cells and white blood cells (including cancer-fighting T-cells), to help fight disease and infection. The term “cord blood” is used for blood that is drawn from the umbilical cord and the placenta after a baby is born. Up until recently, this afterbirth was discarded as medical waste. But cord blood contains stem cells that can be frozen for later use in medical therapies, such as stem-cell transplantation or regenerative medicine.

Insception Biosciences was created to do just that. The company has been storing stem cells from cord blood for more than 15 years and has already used 20 of its cord-blood units in successful transplants or clinical trials, more instances of use than all of its Canadian competitors combined.

“We began in a hospital, and that relationship initially helped us become well known and respected in the industry, especially since our founders also are very active and well-respected scientists in their field,” says Richard Lockie, CEO of Insception.

The company moved out of the hospital in 2004, and now operates from a state-of-the-art facility in Mississauga, Ontario. The move allowed Insception to grow its research into expansion technology, which may allow scientists to expand the number of stem cells. Today, the company runs the largest cord-blood program in Canada, with more than 37,000 samples banked.

“Our company’s culture [allowed] our team to try new things,” Lockie says. “Innovation is an attitude with us. It’s about listening to our employees, letting them try new approaches, and recognizing their contributions.”

There are two primary trends that are driving both the industry and Insception. “The first trend is the increased use of cord blood for stem cells rather than bone marrow, which has been used over the past couple of decades with great success,” Lockie says. This trend is one of the major driving forces from a scientific perspective.

The second trend emerges from a business-specific standpoint. More and more customers are taking responsibility for their own health and are beginning to understand that what they capture today may be used 25 years down the road for a medical treatment. Insception is often their bank of choice because of its reputation for quality and stability, and its affiliation with its hospital partners.

“Our hospital partnerships are very important to our business,” Lockie says. “Our partnerships allow us to learn and benefit from the physicians and nurses, and them from us, which translates into better outcomes for the patient.”

Therefore, the more healthcare clinicians use Insception’s product, the better the collection and transportation of the cord blood to the bank. “The more familiarity the healthcare professionals have with our kits and process, the better the volume collection, which means we can get better results on our end,” Lockie says.

And while Lockie recognizes the importance of the healthcare partnerships, he’s also working closely on nontraditional partnerships, specifically in the fields of marketing and technology. Regardless of approach, however, the goal is to make Insception better in its field.

“We want to be one of the best Canadian businesses,” Lockie says. “Not necessarily because we want to make it on a list of best places to work, but because to get the best performance from our team, we need to ensure we’re following the best practices of communicating widely and frequently, aligning personal objectives with our corporate objectives, paying properly, and maintaining good, performance-measurement management practices. For us, that’s what leads to innovation.”

A Insception Biosciences technician processes cord blood.