Rising Star Award: Josh Eckman, CEO, Carterra

Josh Eckman, whose groundbreaking work in drug discovery made him one of the first breakout talents of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, is the recipient of the 2018 Rising Star Award.

(Reprinted from https://eccles.utah.edu/alumni/events/hall-of-fame/.)

Josh Eckman is the CEO of Carterra, a company that develops and sells research instruments for the pharmaceutical and life science markets. Carterra, formerly known as Wasatch Microfluidics, is a spin-out from the University of Utah that was founded in 2005 by Josh, Jim Smith and mechanical engineering professor Bruce Gale. Carterra’s rapid screening platforms enable months of work to be completed in days, helping scientists develop better drugs for a host of diseases.

Carterra’s current focus is on the burgeoning field of biotherapeutic drug development, which affects more than 350 million patients worldwide. By improving the early stages of biotherapeutic drug discovery, Carterra hopes to enable more life-saving cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune drugs to be developed, and the cost of those drugs to be dramatically lowered.

After winning the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge business plan competition in 2005, Josh and his co-founders licensed from the University of Utah the technologies they had developed in Gale’s State of Utah Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The company was able to prototype their core technologies through funding from the State of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Carterra has grown through a partnership with Pfizer; funding from leading angel consortia and Telegraph Hill Partners, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm; and by developing innovative biosensor instruments and software that are in use by prominent biotech, pharmaceutical, academic and government researchers.

Born in Provo, Josh grew up in Davis County and graduated from Bountiful High School.  He thought he would follow in his father’s footsteps and attend BYU. Fortunately, due to a generous donor, Josh received a better scholarship offer to the University of Utah (whew!), and the rest is history. After an LDS mission to South Korea, he completed a double major with honors in Business Administration and Asian Studies in 2004 and a master’s in Mechanical Engineering in 2007. As an undergraduate, he joined the Lassonde New Venture Development Center, helping evaluate the commercialization of university technologies. It was this experience that spurred him to attend graduate school in engineering and discuss with Bruce Gale the formation of a company to commercialize some of his lab’s technologies.

Josh is married to his sweetheart, Tiffany, and together they have five energetic children. With his demanding work schedule and the roller-coaster ride of being married to an entrepreneur, Josh is incredibly grateful to his wife for her constant support, encouragement and the amazing work she does with their family and community.