For most advertising and craft students, starting a medical diagnostic company may not seem like the most obvious career choice.
Bethany Edwards and Anna Couturier both graduated from Temple. In 2014, they co-founded Lia Diagnostics, a Philadelphia-based company that created an environmentally friendly pregnancy test.
Edwards said promoting sustainability and giving women more privacy were the main reasons why they wanted to create a pregnancy test. Usually, pregnancy tests are made of plastic, which can sit for decades in a landfill.
“Initially, the focus was on sustainability and helping to eliminate plastics on single-use diagnostics,” Edwards said. “You’re only using these tests for a very short time but you’re making them out of materials that far exceeds the lifetime of the product.”
CO-FOUNDER, LIA DIAGNOSTICS
The company researched what women would like to see and experience with a pregnancy test design. One of the things women wanted, Edwards said, was more privacy.
“Being able to dispose of the pregnancy test without anyone seeing the results or having to hide the pregnancy test in the trash is why we were able to overlay unmet user needs with material innovation and got it to zero in on the value of creating something flushable,” Edwards said.
For both Edwards and Couturier, attending Temple helped them create, run and fine-tune their enterprise, they said.
Edwards, a 2006 advertising alumna, worked with the Small Business Development Center, an outreach center in the Fox School of Business that collaborates with startup companies.
Couturier graduated five years after Edwards, gaining a BFA in metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM from the Tyler School of Art.
“My training at Tyler allowed me to take a view at new manufacturing processes and using material for voluntary values which has helped in creating Lia,” Couturier added.
They met at the University of Pennsylvania, where they enrolled in a cross-disciplinary program for integrated product design. After attending classes in three schools — the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Wharton School and the School of Design — they graduated with a post-graduate certificate in 2014.
After the program, they wrote and submitted a provisional patent, a way for inventors to establish a filing date for their inventions. Returning to their Temple roots, they submitted the patent to Fox’s Innovative Idea Competition, an annual event that allows startups to compete for a cash prize.
“The competition helped us understand that not only did we think this was a good idea, but complete strangers also valued the idea,” Edwards said. “It gave us the courage and confidence to push the company further.”
Now, the company has five full-time workers, along with interns and cooperative education students from the Philadelphia area.
Couturier said Lia plans to be more involved in the Philadelphia community’s health sector.
“We’re growing our team by hiring people here in Philadelphia with the aim of being part of the community,” Couturier said.
“We’re very focused on changing the pregnancy tests for good and creating additional innovations like modernizing and rejuvenating women’s health involvement categories to provide women with a new freedom,” Edwards said.