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Inspiring Views from the Bright SideSM

An Interview with Theresa Dankovich

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Cofounder and CTO

Folia Materials | Brooklyn, NY

Connect with Theresa on LinkedIn

1. What are the goods/services offered by your primary business?

Folia produces antibacterial and antiviral materials, including a novel paper-based water filter for low-income customers in developing countries, such as Bangladesh, our primary market.

2. What did you launch in response to the COVD-19 pandemic?

In response to the Covid pandemic, Folia reworked our technology to apply an antiviral outer layer to surgical face masks. We are in the process of getting a FDA Emergency Usage Authorization for this face mask to be sold and distributed in the US to protect medical staff from this virus. Other products we are exploring include an antiviral masking tape for high-touch areas in hospitals.

3. What steps did you take to develop and promote your new initiative?

First, we have worked with various paper manufacturers and coaters to demonstrate the proof-of-concept for the antiviral outer layer materials for face masks. Next we piloted this material with face mask materials to make surgical masks using our novel outer layer. We also have had the antiviral material tested for viral reduction, which was over 99.99% effective at eliminating bacteriophages. We are still finalizing our product for FDA approvals.

4. What or who inspired you to undertake this effort?

We were terrified of the news from China in January and started thinking about how we could use our antiviral material to help stop this virus. Our CEO was asking about who could manufacture face masks in the US in early February before this pandemic was on the radar of most Americans. Prior to COVID-19, we personally were living in Brooklyn, one of the hardest-hit areas in the US, and know many people who have had COVID-19.

5. What results have you seen so far from this initiative?

We have seen support from many large companies to help us rapidly advance this technology. Everyone we speak to about our face mask initiative has been extremely willing to get this initiative up and running. The product should be ready for sales in a couple of months.

6. How do you define success for your project?

Success is stopping the spread of this virus.

7. What are the biggest challenges for you to meet your goal?

The biggest challenges have been navigating through operating in manufacturing when so many places are shut-down or not safe to travel to. We have partners in various parts of the US and other countries that our team cannot physically travel to due to the risks from high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Guiding our partners to create our new product without our in-person support is very challenging. Additional challenges include the lack of American face mask manufacturing prior to COVID-19 means that everyone is new to this game and doesn't necessarily have the needed expertise.

8. How long do you anticipate continuing this effort?

We are gearing up for getting the antiviral face mask product launched and will continue this effort as long as it is needed.

9. What have you learned by undertaking this project?

We have mobilized this product rapidly and have learned lots about manufacturing a new product.

10. How can others learn more about your COVID-19 response efforts?

They can sign up for our newsletters through our website.