Ikostrips is a collaboration between Ikove and Dublin-based Nanofiber Solutions.

Columbus startup Ikostrips is jumping into the burgeoning CBD market by harnessing nanofiber technology already in use by a family of med-tech companies.

Everyone knows medical marijuana is hot. The CBD market alone will balloon to a projected $15 billion to $20 billion by 2025, according to various market researchers including investment bank Cowen & Co.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a component of hemp or marijuana, which is now sold over the counter all over the country. CBD believers say it’s a remedy for pain and inflammation, anxiety and depression, chemotherapy-induced nausea—even acne. Right now, you can get CBD as an oil, a topical cream, in edibles like gummy bears, or as a vaping product. 

Ikostrips' under-the-tongue strips use the same polymer as a time-release capsule. The body can absorb the micronized CBD oil much faster and more efficiently than simply swallowing the oil. 

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“The digestive tract reduces the amount of CBD active that gets in your system. Bioavailability is what this is all about,” says Scott Barnes, Ikostrip’s CEO. “Ikostrips [can] get CBD into your system with the most accurate, predictable and controllable bioavailability.

Ikostrips is one of the newest portfolio companies of Ikove Capital, the Columbus startup nursery. 

Ikostrips is a collaboration between Ikove and Dublin-based Nanofiber Solutions; the pair have been commercializing med-tech solutions based on electrospun nanofiber technology for several years, including ParaGen, which aids in tissue regrowth for wounds.

Ikove’s partnership with Nanofiber Technologies is an illustration of the growing biotech scene in Columbus. The same nanofiber electrospinning technology can be used as a delivery system for medications and nutraceuticals; for implantable, dissolvable surgical materials; even for lab-grown meats, as used by another Ikove startup, Matrix Meats. 

Barnes came to Ikove as an entrepreneur in residence after a series of Silicon Valley bioengineering startups and says his background in highly regulated markets helps further Ikostrips’ goal of being seen as a rigorously tested, trustworthy product in a market that currently resembles the Wild West.

Barnes is positioning Ikostrips as a wholesaler to brands already holding a firm footprint in the market, which he says should open the door to high-volume sales without a large marketing investment.

Ikostrips is in the middle of $1.1 million capital raise. Barnes says the company has just finished its first production run and plans to continue manufacturing here in Columbus, pushing toward seeing revenue begin to flow in the third quarter of 2020. 

“CBD is already happening as a market,” he says. “The model has proven to be able to raise money even in the middle of pandemic.”

Cynthia Bent Findlay is a freelance writer.