The Debrief: James Hayward, Applied DNA Sciences

Applied DNA CEO Jim Hayward.

A new collaboration with a California-based training organization, which puts Applied DNA’s proprietary genetic marking technology in front of thousands of U.S. police departments and private security firms, continues a 2015 hot streak for CEO James Hayward’s Stony Brook-based biotech firm. Already this year the firm has notched a prestigious index listing, inked several professional team-ups and completed a corporate acquisition that opens its proprietary tech to several new vertical markets. In Hayward’s words:

COLLABORATION EXAMINATION: We think this is very important. It’s certainly strategic. We are working with police departments in Denmark and Sweden and close to 70 departments in the United States, and we’re contemplating how to truly take the program national. To do that, we need the support of the police nationally. What’s amazing is the enthusiasm, spreading from police chief to police chief in neighboring municipalities.

THEY NEED BADGES: In whatever municipality we work in, we train the police one by one. The police aren’t the customer – the customer could be an insurance company or an individual homeowner. But in the event of a robbery, to track and return the marked items, we need the police to know how to recognize them, how to sample the DNA, how to send us samples through the chain-of-customer container and how to manage our expert witness documents. The infrastructure that makes it work requires the police.

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: The integration of corporate acquisition Vandalia Research is going very well. We did our due diligence extraordinarily well and the integration team has done a superb job. Their technology will allow us to mass-produce specific DNA sequences and to produce longer DNA strands, which could be very useful to scientists working with gene therapies and developing vaccinations based on DNA.

GO TEAM: I’m very proud of our staff. As I have often said, if I have a skill, it’s choosing my friends well. Our organization is hardworking and this team is extraordinarily motivated. For a startup to not be selling widgets but to be selling things that actually benefit communities – including our own communities – is very motivational.

SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS: I would say it’s because we’ve “crossed the chasm.” For disruptive technologies like ours, before you get to early adoption, you have to kind of cross the chasm of believers. We sell DNA as a safety concept, a security concept. It’s something every fan of “CSI” has come to believe in, but when it comes to actually paying for it, you need strong proof that it actually does what we claim. After acquiring some wonderful partners and good customers, we’ve gathered some real momentum.

SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Applied DNA is quite distinct from anything I’ve brought to market before. Our total addressable market is almost too large to calculate. Some estimate our platform as relevant to 10 percent of all global trade. That’s a big number. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates just the anti-counterfeiting economy at $1.7 trillion. So we’re facing an enormous total addressable market. That’s very exciting.

MICROCAPPING IT OFF: Our focus is on our company’s performance and on ensuring we offer the best return for our investors. The Russell Microcap Index listing was a happy consequence of that.

BUY IN: Our trading volume on a daily basis has gone up. The interest in our stocks has certainly been following an upward trend. You can’t assign this to any single event. Our press releases have an impact. Our presentations at road shows have an impact. Sometimes, even when I present to a company in a sales effort, in a week or two we’ll find that people in the room found the stock appealing enough to invest in it themselves.

DNA ALL THE WAY: Between Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor, Brookhaven National Lab, North Shore University Hospital … we are living in a DNA corridor that’s probably unmatched anywhere in the world. The availability of superb tools and tremendous mentors and advisors can’t be matched at any major university town in the world. Given Long Island’s defense legacy and the applications for DNA regarding defense, this is the perfect place for us.

SEAWOLVES FOREVER: I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten in on the ground floor of the science in this community. I’ve been lucky that way. And I have always been committed to Stony Brook (University). I did my Ph.D. there. My daughter and my wife received their masters’ degrees there. We live half-a-mile from the campus and participate in fine arts events, and we’ve been long-standing supporters of the school.

BEST DESTINY: If you look at the kind of research and academic resources we have in this community, you see that similar resources have spawned innovation hubs all over the country. Our community should be one of the leaders, if not the leader, for biotech. Long Island has struggled to do that. Nothing is ever easy, but we’ve created some great companies that have contributed significantly to the benefits of biotech and medicine elsewhere, and hopefully we’ll create some more.

1 Comment on "The Debrief: James Hayward, Applied DNA Sciences"

  1. | October 26, 2015 at 12:32 PM |

    succinct, enlightening, exciting!

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