YSU ITAC helps international business

Left to Right: Mousa Kassis, International Trade advisor for the Ohio Small Business Development Center, stands with Bret Barnhizer, CEO of NanoLogix Inc., and Faisal Nasser Al-Harthi, CEO of Nasaem Al-Jazira Inc., after completing a distribution agreement that will send NanoLogix products to select countries in the Middle East.

Left to Right: Mousa Kassis, International Trade advisor for the Ohio Small Business Development Center, stands with Bret Barnhizer, CEO of NanoLogix Inc., and Faisal Nasser Al-Harthi, CEO of Nasaem Al-Jazira Inc., after completing a distribution agreement that will send NanoLogix products to select countries in the Middle East.

The International Trade Assistance Center at Youngstown State University has recently facilitated an international distribution agreement between local biotechnology company NanoLogix Inc and Nasaem Al-Jazira Inc., a Saudi Arabian trading and distribution company.

Formed two years ago and housed in Williamson Hall, YSU’s ITAC is an arm of the university’s Ohio Small Business Development Center. As part of Ohio Development Services, there are SBDCs and ITACs located across the state.

Patricia Veisz, director of the SBDC on campus, said that the YSU International Trade Assistance Center assists businesses in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties to both pinpoint possible international opportunities and complete these agreements.

“We are really helping companies in the area realize some exporting potential they may not have thought about,” Viez said. “It is a little bit different, you know, they might not know the language or the customs or how to do the paperwork. and that is where we fill in and can really help these companies.”

NanoLogix, located in a state-of -the-art Hubbard facility, is a biotech company that specializes in the production of four different technologies that boast quick and efficient detection and identification of bacteria and other microorganisms. They supply their product to labs, hospitals, and other research entities across 9 countries in 4 continents.

“We are the fastest detection technology literally on the planet for finding out what someone has, if they have got an infection. We are not first line of defense if someone does an anthrax attack, but if someone is infected, we can find out quicker than anybody else: E.coli, salmonella, Group B Strep, a whole slew of bacteria,” said Bret Barnhizer CEO of NanoLogix Inc.

Barnhizer said that NanoLogix offers further innovation in the production and packaging of their petri plates, used for culturally cells such as bacteria. Their Flatpack packaging technique allows for prodigiously increased shelf life.

“If you take the competition’s plates, after about two or three months at room [temperature] storage, they end up dried up, desiccated, useless. Ours, with this unique packaging, are currently being tested at the year and a half stage for room temperature. … They look normal; this is how a new plate looks. They test the same as a new place,” Barnhizer said. “This is really disruptive technology where — there is no way to get around it — it affects the economics of the customer and the producer.”

Barnhizer said he began his relationship with ITAC and Moussa Kassis, the International Trade Advisor at ITAC, after leaving a message on the governor’s website about their advances in technology.

“The governor referred it to the Ohio Department of Economic Development — which has the International Trade Assistance Center — and there are a number of them around the state,” Barnhizer said. “[Kassis] contacted me right after the holiday, and then he came in, and we gave him a tour of the company.

Kassis then worked directly with NanoLogix for several months to complete this deal. Kassis said he typically advises companies on U.S. laws and regulations, ensures the proper paperwork is signed and processed and that no communication barriers inhibit the process.

“The contact had been already made. What I did is I oversee it happening, and I advise the company in certain things regarding to culture and economic outlook in that area,” Kassis said. “All this service is free for companies, and it is highly confidential.”

Al-Jazira will now distribute NanoLogix’s products across the Gulf Cooperation Council area over a five-year time frame. This includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The deal has gained approval from the U.S. Department of State and the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia located in Washington D.C. Once the deal is in full effect, sales are estimated at $900,000 for the first year.

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