URC Profile

Kalyan Handique

Company: HandyLab Inc.
Year started: 2002 (acquired by Becton, Dickinson & Co. for $275 million in 2009)
Industry: Medical Devices
Current Start-up Company: DeNovo Sciences
Offices: Plymouth, MI
Activity: Clinical diagnostic testing products that accelerate cancer research and diagnostics
Annual Revenue: N/A
Employees:6 full time, 7 part time
Attended: University of Michigan
Degree: Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, 2000
Company website: denovosciences.com

“You can do anything if you have the right people to come along with you.”

The University of Michigan spinout “HandyLab”may bear his name, but seasoned biotech entrepreneur Kalyan “Handy” Handique will be the first to tell you that he didn’t get there on his own. He got a lot of help through the collaborative efforts of an interdisciplinary team of chemical and electrical engineers he met while earning his doctoral degree in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan.

With the aid of his U-M colleagues, Handique developed a first-of-its-kind advanced microchip that speeds DNA sequencing to quickly and accurately detect a multitude of genes. In 1999, the technology caught the eye of Ann Arbor venture capital firm EDF Ventures, the student-run Wolverine Venture Fund and Ardesta after an article about the technology appeared in Science Magazine. Investors from California also expressed an interest in the technology, but Handique was happy to stay where he was—near Ann Arbor’s top universities and engineering and research talent. Handique solicited the help of his former U-M colleague Sundaresh Brahmasandra and the two, working closely with U-M’s Tech Transfer office, founded HandyLab.

Over the next nine years, Handique and Brahmasandra expanded the business, and the company’s Jaguar™ technology was such a hit in the marketplace that Becton, Dickinson and Co., a New Jersey-based global medical devices manufacturer, acquired the company in 2009 for $275 million. The company’s sale was a big win for the Michigan venture capital community.

“Could be next big hub”

As he guided his company through the transition, Handique kept an eye out for other promising startups with which he could get involved. He learned about DeNovo Sciences, a small medical device startup in Wayne County’s Plymouth Township. DeNovo Sciences cancer research and diagnosis platform offers an alternative to painful and invasive biopsies that could one day lead to being able to detect cancer before primary tumors are discovered. With DeNovo Sciences, he found a like-minded group of top scientists and engineers hungry to create something new and a passion for making a difference in the world. While Handique has an impressive science background, he joined the company as its CEO in late 2011 and is handling the business side and helping to find investors. Handique anticipates that, within five years, the company’s platform for early stage research and diagnostics will be in hospitals all over the world. He’s also on the board of two other start-ups in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Albuquerque, N.M., as well as adviser to three venture capital funds. Anytime someone asks for help in the entrepreneurial space, he says he “can’t say no.”