Fosshield named year's top product
By Michael McCord
Seacoast Sunday, November 20, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — It was out-of-the-box thinking that led to Foss Manufacturing securing 2011 Product of the Year honors by the New Hampshire High Technology Council.
"(Fosshield) is definitely a disruptive technology," said Bill Hurst, vice president of product development for Foss. "There is broad appeal for all kinds of uses in society."
The antimicrobial technology can be used for more than life-saving immediacy of wearing a mask as protection against any host of airborne contagious organism from the common cold to swine flu. Fosshield can also be applied to a wide range of protection areas, from footwear to apparel to water and air filtration systems.
Hurst said the Product of the Year recognition validates the five years of research and development that went into Fosshield. He said the "revolutionary" features of the embedded antimicrobial technology in the SpectraShield 9500 N95 Surgical Respirator Mask — that was co-developed with Florida-based Nexera Medical — is a significant upgrade over current masks.
With increasing concerns about pandemic outbreaks, Hurst said Fossshield eliminates 99.99 percent of bacteria on the treated surface within one hour and certain strains of harmful bacteria on contact before they can enter the body.
They are also unique because they can be reused and are suitable for the surgery room, doctor's office or at home.
The SpectraShield Respirator is designed to capture harmful germs and kill them when they are on the surface of the mask, Hurst explained. It also traps and kills any additional germs in the middle filtration layers before they can enter the body and potentially cause an infection.
"There was a major investment of resources and time into Fosshield because we knew this was a game-changing technology," Hurst said. "There were a lot of evaluations and empirical studies done. We wanted to create a product that would have a distinct benefit to society, and we did."
In March, the SpectraShield 9500 N95 Surgical Respirator Mask became the first of its type to have its antimicrobial effectiveness claims cleared by the federal Food and Drug Administration and European Union regulators. In September, Nextera announced it was returning to the FDA for clearance on greater efficiency claims after additional studies.
In addition to manufacturing surgical masks at its Hampton facility, Hurt said Foss has begun to license Fosshield for use in a wide range of applications. He said it can be used in home and educational settings or on seats of buses, airplanes and trains. Hurst said the athletic shoemaker New Balance licensed Fosshield for its new line of newSKY footwear.
"It can be used on blankets, mops, surgical scrubs, apparel and items in hospitality suites. And that's just the beginning," Hurst said.
The Product of the Year award from the N.H. High Tech Council is the latest step forward for Foss, which went bankrupt in 2005. The company was further hobbled by major layoffs in 2009 at the height of the recession and a financial scandal surrounding former CEO Stephen Foss. Founded in 1954, Foss Manufacturing was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2006 for $39 million by a Florida-based private equity firm.
Hurst believes the Fosshield breakthrough will "embolden" the company to increase its research and development portfolio.
"Obviously, it can be a major revenue source and it opens up markets for us," he said. "It gains us tremendous legitimacy and can make us a household brand name. It shows we have the capability to deal with these types of challenges and that we have a world-class manufacturing facility."