March 13, 2013

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CEO of the Year

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Kirk Ririe

Fueling the Fire of Innovation

Alex Springer

March 13, 2013

Many great ventures begin in humble places, and Biofire Diagnostics CEO Kirk Ririe understands this better than most people. Ririe has brought his company from the meager surroundings of a potato equipment facility to one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of biotechnical diagnostic equipment.  

Ririe earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Utah and is the recipient of several awards in both entrepreneurial and scientific fields. In 1990, Ririe founded Biofire Diagnostics—previously named Idaho Technologies—with Carl Wittwer and Randy Rasmussen. They got their start manufacturing and selling Wittwer’s DNA Amplification System. “We were doing that in the corner of my family’s potato equipment company in Idaho Falls,” Ririe says.

Since then, Ririe has focused on providing the healthcare industry with technology that will improve its ability to detect and treat the harmful pathogens that cause maladies ranging from minor infections to gastrointestinal problems. “The focus of our company is really on diagnostics. The FilmArray is a new class of diagnostic platform that allows hospital laboratories to test for the causes of a certain symptom,” Ririe says.

In addition to contributing to hospitals’ ability to detect harmful pathogens, Biofire Diagnostics has secured the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System (JBAIDS) contract with the U.S. military. “[JBAIDS] tests for anthrax, plague and other harmful biological agents,” Ririe says. 

As an industry leader, Ririe strives to create a work environment that celebrates innovation and creative thinking. To this end, Biofire Diagnostics works closely with the U. “We work on really cool stuff on the cutting edge of biotechnology, but we benefit massively from proximity to a great university and a skilled, motivated workforce,” Ririe says.

By working closely with professors, researchers and students from the U, Biofire has been able to maintain its reputation for manufacturing quality products that are on the cutting edge of technology. Ririe is currently working on securing FDA approval of five new products designed to improve the FilmArray so it will be able to diagnose a more diverse set of pathogens, which will in turn benefit a hospital’s ability to treat a given medical problem.

“We believe that timely, accurate results will improve patient care. The future of our company is to provide that solution,” Ririe says.

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