Alumni Start-Up Poised For Success: Pirouette Medical

Pirouette Medical, a pharmaceutical company founded by three Clarkson alumni, leverages a deep technical skillset and broad industry knowledge to develop and manufacture drug delivery devices that offer the key to more effective treatment, improved patient outcomes, and the opportunity to deliver more efficient, lower cost care. The enhanced total patient experience, from procurement through end-use, magnifies the value of the delivered drug products for all stakeholders – patients, providers, payers, and pharmacists. We pair our patented technology with generic drugs and partner with drug manufacturers to bring a significantly differentiated and competitive edge to their offerings.

Pirouette makes injections as easy as pushing a button! Pirouette has developed and patented a rugged, reliable low-profile, disk-shaped, automated injection device (auto-injector) with a patient-centric focus on affordability, portability, and usability to offer stakeholders peace of mind. Our first generation auto-injector is a flexible platform that is adaptable to specific drug product application requirements. The platform is ready-to-use, compact, pre-filled, stable and functional at a wide array of operationally relevant temperatures, and the injection depth is pre-set with the ability to range from subcutaneous to intramuscular to consistently deliver liquid, parenteral drugs. The significant advancement in usability clearly stands out as the key factor to a better patient outcome!

Pirouette Medical was started by Conor Cullinane ’13, Eli Kapas ’14, and Matt Kane ’13. The three founders met in 2010 while attending Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. Conor studied Aeronautical Engineering while obtaining minors in Biomedical Engineering, Mathematics, and Pre-Med. Matt received a dual degree in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering while obtaining a minor in Mathematics. Eli received a dual degree in Mechanical and Civil Engineering. The three became great friends and colleagues as they took many classes together, and then went on to become the faces of the Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Department as they created the Rocket Division.

The Rocket Division was a research group housed within the Applied Aerodynamics Laboratory, and founded by Conor, Matt, and Eli. The group was focused on developing a rocket test bed for the development of an attitude control system. The goal was to create a modular system for large scale model rocket enthusiasts that could be added to their rockets and would control the trajectory and provide precise positioning of the rocket. The venture was, undenounced to the team at the time, a mini startup experience. The trio managed the entire venture through conception, design, testing, manufacturing, funding, and finally launch – which was used as an educational outreach activity as well. The team has been working closely to solve difficult problems for many years and has treasured that opportunity.

After Clarkson, Conor obtained a PhD in Medical Engineering & Medical Physics at MIT and Harvard Medical School in the Health Sciences and Technology Program. He has expertise in human factors engineering, medical engineering, medical physics, and startups. He is interested in leading engineering teams to successful technology implementations, not by ordering action to be taken, but rather taking action and motivating others to do the same. Matt earned a MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame where he developed and tested turbomachinery, which included performance and vibration analysis. He enjoys working on technical problems, working with a tight knit team towards a common goal, and wearing many hats. Since co-founding Pirouette, Matt has continued to apply his engineering talent while adding proficiency in quality systems, FDA regulatory strategy, operations, and all phases of medical device development and testing. . Eli has worked across multiple industries in roles ranging from quality to supervision and knows how to leverage the key strengths of team members to be successful. He has expertise in mechanical engineering, systems engineering, and computer aided design. He is interested in the development of mechanical systems and integration along with lean engineering. Experience in design as well as implementation allows for key insight to user interfaces and workability.

Conor, Matt, and Eli each have very different skillsets, backgrounds, experiences, personalities, but are drawn together by their common traits: a willingness and love to work harder than anyone else, and a love of working together on difficult problems. Although it could have been Pirouette Aerospace, the trio chose to advocate on behalf of patients and tackle a specific need for healthcare innovation—launching Pirouette Medical.

Outside of the classroom/lab/office, the trio can be found flying (Conor and Matt are pilots), going on multi-day hiking adventures, and their personal favorite – spontaneous road trips.