COVID Cough Drop

Two researchers at UCF are developing a cough drop that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by making saliva heavier and stickier – it makes sneeze and cough particles fall rather than float. But is there really a market for such a product? Paul Jarley talks with researchers Michael Kinzel and Kareem Ahmed to find out the science behind the lozenge, how soon it could hit store shelves and the similarities to products you already have around the house.


Featured Guests

  • Kareem Ahmed – Assistant Professor, College of Engineering & Computer Science, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Michael Kinzel – Assistant Professor, College of Engineering & Computer Science, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Cameron Ford – Director, UCF Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Michael Pape – Dr. Phillips Entrepreneur in Residence; Lecturer, Management

Episode Highlights

  • 0:49 – The origin of the COVID-19 cough drop idea
  • 2:58 – How mechanical engineers got into cough drops
  • 5:18 – How can the COVID cough drop make it to stores?
  • 7:58 – Legal hurdles for the COVID cough drop
  • 11:53 – Who is the target audience for this?
  • 16:27 – How long will it take to get to market?
  • 25:42 – …Ketchup?
  • 28:48 – What are the learning lessons for students?
  • 33:07 – Final thoughts from Paul Jarley, Cameron Ford and Michael Pape

Click to listen to the extended “geek” edition of this episode or visit!


Episode Transcription

Paul Jarley:                         2020 has been the year of the coronavirus, and big money is being put in to find a vaccine. But what if I told you that the spread of COVID isn’t a medical problem, but rather an engineering one. And that two UCF Aerospace Engineers might have a simple, low-cost solution. Would you invest in their project?

Paul Jarley:                         This show is all about separating hype from fundamental change. I’m Paul Jarley, Dean of the College of Business here at UCF. I’ve got lots of questions. To get answers, I’m talking to people with interesting insights into the future of business. Have you ever wondered, is this really a thing? Onto our show.

Paul Jarley:                         Ideas come from unexpected places. Listen to Michael Kinzel, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCF. Explain the origin of the idea for a COVID cough drop.

Michael Kinzel:                 It was kind of funny, right? My wife was arguing with one of our neighbors on Facebook, about aerosols and how far they can kind of pass from one person to another. And one of the things about aerosols is they’re very small, and if you cough, for example, at that time, they were showing that… Actually not cough, sneeze, if you sneeze, they were showing that these aerosols can travel at 27 feet. My wife was arguing with neighbors like, “Hey, you need to be careful as you go by somebody, maybe move out of the sidewalk.” Because of these aerosols. And it drove me to think, how do you make these… What do we do in engineering to make things not form aerosols?

Michael Kinzel:                 And one of the things that drives that is underlying fluid dynamics processes that associated with how thick your fluid is. So for example, if you think about trying to make small droplets out of oil, it’s a lot more difficult than making small droplets out of water, or even on the other end alcohol. So this is kind of driving, it was kind of, how do you get to a scenario where you don’t enable droplets to travel 27 feet? And if you make them large, they’re no longer aerosols and they have a tendency to fall. So one way to potentially enable that is by making a lozenge that actually alters your saliva. So that it behaves or has a tendency to form these large droplets that don’t persist for very long distances.

Paul Jarley:                         Okay. So first, Michael, your wife has strange conversations with neighbors.

Michael Kinzel:                 Oh yeah, she is. She argues with her neighbors all the time on Facebook.

Paul Jarley:                         I assume at some point you brought in Kareem on this.

Paul Jarley:                         Kareem Ahmed, is director of the propulsing and energy research lab at UCF. And like Michael, he’s an assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Paul Jarley:                         Kareem, what did you think about this?

Kareem Ahmed:               I mean, so we do biofuels research and the alteration of the saliva is a similar reminiscent sort of effect that we study with biofuels where change viscosity and surface tension. And yeah, I mean, that’s the thoughts back then, where it’s a fluid dynamic problem. It’s similar to the expulsion that you have from an engine, same principle that has happening here. It’s just a lower force. And by having this different properties, if your saliva using a loss [inaudible 00:00:03:49], so it impacts its atomization process. So it’s a basic simple principle actually.

Paul Jarley:                         So why didn’t anybody think of this before?

Kareem Ahmed:               Well, it’s just because there isn’t a need for something like this. I think here it’s when you’re bound to the closures and the pandemic and thinking outside the box, why isn’t anybody doing this? Well, first is, I mean, we are human, right? So we want to drink water. We don’t want to have a foreign saliva altering object in our mouth.

Kareem Ahmed:               And in this case, it’s sort of a need, it’s the same thing like the face mask. We don’t want our face mask on our nose and mouth, but it’s a need right now. And I think that’s why nobody thought of it is because of this.

Michael Kinzel:                 I was going to add that people had in the past thought about almost like a nebulizer that focused on the lungs, but nobody’s ever focused on the mouth. So, that’s I think are the unique aspect that we’re doing, and it seems to be pretty effective.

Paul Jarley:                         Is this a potential solution for things other than COVID?

Michael Kinzel:                 Oh, most certainly. Like colds, flus, I think in terms of a longterm application, yeah. Like if somebody has a flu, you may prescribe them some, not prescribed them, you may have them take these lozenge and they’ll have a less chance to transmit flu to one person.

Paul Jarley:                         You touched on another one of my questions here, Michael. So this would be an over-the-counter product?

Michael Kinzel:                 This is kind of where we have kind of a, we’re in a little bit of a bind because when we talk to FDA, they say, “As long as we don’t make a specific claim that this product…” Like if we don’t have a specific claim, we do not need FDA approval, hence it’s over-the-counter. It’s not even an FDA approved treatment, which is the same for a mask, by the way, it’s not FDA approved either because they haven’t done all the clinical studies.

Michael Kinzel:                 In fact, I think a couple of years ago they found that dental floss wasn’t FDA approved to improve your teeth health, but that approval process gives you kind of like buy-in or added, it essentially it gives you more, yes, the FDA says that this actually functions. And in either case, I think it would be over-the-counter because it’s non medicinal. But I think maybe one question is, do we go after FDA approval to be able to make a specific claim on transmission reduction of things like COVID?

Paul Jarley:                         But what about the additives that changed the viscosity of the saliva, or are there any hurdles there? I mean, what are you adding to it?

Michael Kinzel:                 These are just over-the-counter, kind of like food grade thickeners, things that you would put in your, like in cooking. For example-

Paul Jarley:                         Can I have a little flour-

Michael Kinzel:                 Not flour, but like cornstarch and so forth.

Paul Jarley:                         Okay.

Michael Kinzel:                 And things that are… We’re trying to refine our ingredients so that it doesn’t, one that it stays, so it still functions in the context of a lozenge or some other treatment and to making it as comfortable as possible. I don’t know if you have any other comments, Kareem.

Kareem Ahmed:               Yeah. I mean, they’re just off the shelf ingredients that just simply alter your saliva and things like peanut flour, for example, but the alter is the saliva and it makes it highly viscous and reduces your optimization process from a sneeze or a cough, or even a loud speaking. So things of that nature that you could use, you could go exotic with formulated formulas, but for now it’s organic based off the shelf components. It’s like you’re chewing on a piece of bread, it affects your saliva in the absorption and it’s viscosity, so that’s the same principle.

Paul Jarley:                         You might remember Mike Pape from our earlier podcast on, “Starting a business without any money.” He is the Dr. Phillips entrepreneur in residence, and professor of practice in the College of Business. Dr. Pape, do you have any take on the FDA component on this?

Michael Pape:                   Yes. For the FDA, you can use the ingredients called GRAS. G-R-A-S, Generally Regarded as Safe. So if you use those types of ingredients, they mentioned the cornstarch, yeah, I mean, you could do that in a product than do it over-the-counter, and marketed in such a way that it has appeal to some customer segment.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, it would seem like time is of the essence here. I mean, we’d all like to think that there’s going to be some solutions to this COVID virus soon. Is the FDA process a lengthy one, Dr. Pape? Would it take them a long time?

Michael Pape:                   Well, I don’t know if you wouldn’t necessarily have go through that route. You can just use a GRAS ingredient and you can then market it from as you desire. I guess the thing here is, at least from hearing the conversation, what I’ve heard is cough drop, but it really wouldn’t be a cough drop because cough drops, they have menthol in them and it’s derivatives, which are analgesics, which suppress the cough reflex.

Michael Pape:                   So those are very different things. Even those can be ingredients that you don’t necessarily have that FDA approval of, because they’re so used and they’re generic in nature, but this one looks like a saliva viscosity enhancer. However, you’d want to market that for somebody. That’s what it is.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah. It’s essentially a confection. I would call it a confection, it’s not really a cough drop of-

Michael Pape:                   There we go. Okay.

Michael Kinzel:                 Most people think of… Well, when I say confection, not everybody knows what a confection is. So the media use cough drops as the generic term.

Michael Pape:                   Yeah, I know. There’s one thing that… Because this is about different solutions. And then there’s the face mask, there’s the face shield, there’s the distancing. And I think everybody would agree that they’re like three leaky buckets for these aerosols and for respiratory droplets and by squishy three buckets together that have holes in it, maybe you can reduce the leakage.

Michael Pape:                   And it looks like this would fit in the category where it’d be a fourth item if you will, that could reduce the leakage. So there might be a case there, but when I think about the solution, yes, you could this confectionary idea. I get it, but you can also reduce the droplets if you will. And it wouldn’t necessarily be viscosity, but you could do it by, I don’t know, I guess drawing out people’s mouth.

Kareem Ahmed:               One of the ingredients actually, and Mike was going to touch on it. We do have a ginger that does tend to do that, reduce your saliva production.

Michael Pape:                   I’ll give you a recommendation for that. Paul and I, are big baseball fans. And we used to buy, I am sure, and just like he did, like I did, we would go buy Topps baseball cards every week, hoping there were Detroit tigers in there. And they would have this bad piece of gum, and we thought it was sent from heaven. When we chew it, and it would go stale in about a minute and dry out your mouth.

Paul Jarley:                         It was terrible.

Michael Pape:                   It was terrible. But we would chew it, and licked through the cards. It was the best clean ever.

Kareem Ahmed:               The cards smell great.

Michael Pape:                   Right, it did. But those are just different solutions, but that same idea of trying to put it in with the current regime of reduction of respiratory droplets and aerosols.

Paul Jarley:                         Mike, I think your card point is kind of relevant here because one of the questions I had is, why would I buy it? Because honestly I’m protecting others, not myself.

Michael Kinzel:                 Personally, I think that that’s the biggest hurdle we have. And because of that, I do not think it’s… I think that there’s probably a few different market or markets to hit and it wouldn’t be the general market, the general person. It might be kind of like, I kind of tried to classify them in my own words, but kind of like a regulated workforce. So you think of like the healthcare, military and elderly homes. People where you have to, places where they have to be together, but they could actually demand, “Hey, you need to take these things and it’ll help reduce spread of disease and so forth.” It seems like the obvious first market to hit.

Paul Jarley:                         Or how about college students to show up on campus.

Michael Kinzel:                 I think that it would be really hard to [crosstalk 00:12:56].

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah. Cameron, what do you think?

Paul Jarley:                         Cameron Ford is an associate professor in our management department, and is the founding director of the UCF Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Paul Jarley:                         What do you think about that problem? Yeah.

Cameron Ford:                  Well, first off, I think this is a really interesting kind of creative solution in that it is, he came up with an analogy in between the aerosols, from the sneezing and everything like that, to these viscosity issues you guys deal with in your engineering research. So making that connection is one of the things I really enjoy seeing people do, and using one thing as an analogy for something else and then thinking for brand new solutions. That was a really cool aspect of your story.

Cameron Ford:                  I think, I’m always looking at use scenarios for something like this, and trying to figure out whether if the solution by itself can address a problem or maybe in combination with something else. So, one thing I’m thinking about as I’m listening to you guys, is whether this is an ingredient that might be combined with something else, like a decongestant or something like that, that people might take as a better version of whatever it is they’re using to deal with like a common cold or something like that.

Cameron Ford:                  The other thing I was thinking of doing by itself, or specific use scenarios. And who would be the 100 most desperate people to use something like this. I’m trying to think of, I don’t know, meat processing plants, places like that.

Paul Jarley:                         For someone who has someone-

Cameron Ford:                  Like Paul’s kind of thinking where it’s kind of high incident rates where maybe an employer could enforce utilization and it would solve their problem-

Paul Jarley:                         Or a susceptible family member maybe, Cameron?

Cameron Ford:                  Yeah. Something like that, maybe.

Paul Jarley:                         That would be another category I thought about.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah.

Cameron Ford:                  The people are trying to either, in the global way of thinking about this kind of, and people are buying something or either trying to achieve a positive outcome or avoid a negative outcome. This is clearly a scenario where you’re trying to help people avoid negative outcomes. So getting your relatives sick, getting a child sick, getting a coworker sick, those would be the kinds of scenarios. So what are the worst ones of those that you can imagine, and then maybe focus on those.

Michael Pape:                   Yeah. I agree with Cameron. There’s a product market fit issue, and Michael mentioned that. And the idea is who would be an early adopter of this? It wouldn’t be for the masses. It doesn’t seem like you’re going to pop one of these in your mouth before you go into public, to protect other people.

Michael Pape:                   But if you have an acute situation with the relative, I’ll give you an example. Like my mom, she’s 87, she’s in a senior living facility and that senior living facility, it’s up in Michigan, they have a gazebo out there. You have to rent the space for an hour. Family members walk around on the lawn to sit out there in chairs that are far apart and they got to be masked, but you could see using and mandating something like this be used in the senior living facility, and family members utilizing it. If it can be acted on quickly, I think they could possibly mandate something like that.

Cameron Ford:                  Yeah. To piggyback on Mike, I would suggest that there’s places where the use of this might be mandated for some kind of broader benefit for a population of people that are maybe in a prison or in a nursing home or other high incident places that might be a good way of doing it. Because to Paul’s earlier point, this isn’t something would probably be real pleasant to consume. So it might be better to have it in an environment where they’re doing it for some other reason.

Paul Jarley:                         So gentlemen, how long do you think it will take you to get into market? Michael and Kareem.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah. One of the things that we were… So our goal was to get it to market as fast as possible. So our initial thinking was, “Okay, why don’t we hit up the companies already developing lozenges or other kinds of things like the Nicorette gum.” But we have not had much success going with a licensing option with that, which would be licensing out our technology to one of these larger corporations.

Michael Kinzel:                 So we’re still trying to do that. And we feel like if we could get it licensed, they could get out to market very quickly because it’s really not that complicated of a feat. But what we’re doing now is trying on our own and exploring options to get funding, to push it out to market, but then it has other issues. Because we have to worry about getting it into supermarkets or getting it purchased by like the elderly homes or healthcare companies, right? It’s a lot more complicated when you pushing things out to marketing, and getting buy-in and so forth. We really were hoping the licensing option would have worked, but I don’t know if maybe we’ve missed, we haven’t hit the right companies interested in it so far.

Paul Jarley:                         Is this an idea you can patent?

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah. It is patentable. Yeah, that’s bottom line.

Paul Jarley:                         Michael and Cameron, you got any potential partners in mind for these guys?

Cameron Ford:                  I was wondering if you’ve spoken to any food co-packers or other food manufacturing outfits that might be able to work with.

Michael Kinzel:                 We’ve mostly spoke to a lot of the big pharmaceutical companies like Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, GSK, a few other companies. And I don’t know, maybe we’re hitting the wrong routes, but we didn’t get any interest from them. But we also tried like with Ricola, but we have not hit up some of the… I think probably the best one is that, I forget what it’s called Melendez or the one that owns Halls and Nabisco. They might be another one to hit up, but yeah.

Cameron Ford:                  I was wondering about some food co-packing companies that may have excess capacity and might be able to give you a fairly good rate for manufacturing, to what were you talking about, but then you would have to put up money to make that happen.

Michael Kinzel:                 So that is, literally this week we’re putting in, we’re trying to get find ways to fund this and we’re exploring options of getting investments, but we’re also exploring government SBIR routes as well. And I think once we… If we’re able to get funds through that, that might be, I think that’s an excellent idea. When you say a co-packing, I guess I’m not completely clear what these kinds of-

Michael Pape:                   Well, this is Michael. Kareem, correct me if you see it differently, but there are plenty of places that make, let’s say vitamins or various things, and they do the packaging. So all you do is you set up an agreement with them, and if these are just off the shelf kind of ingredients, they can make Primal pills, they can pump these out. And they can sell them under private label. You can put your own label on there, it looks like it’s coming from your own company. And it would be a marketing play, basically.

Michael Pape:                   And you would just have to market appropriately. You could do that online. You might have some boots on the ground that could go to senior living facilities in the area, and get some validation from them. And then you’re on your way. And you just put on your website, you would put the data that you have generated in the lab instead of a white paper, and that would be your basis for marketing.

Michael Kinzel:                 I got you. Yeah, I did see these, I didn’t know what they were called, but that does make it practical from a startup point of view, I think-

Michael Pape:                   They’re like outsource manufacturer.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah, it’s-

Cameron Ford:                  Now, would you be able to make batches of this in a home kitchen or a small commercial kitchen?

Michael Pape:                   You’re thinking farmers market, like I was thinking?

Cameron Ford:                  Well, kind of. I mean, this is the kind of thing where they, you can legally manufacture food in a home setting under a craft food arrangement, and then you could take boxes of these things to various kinds of places like Mike has described, and see what people think. Do they taste so nasty they would never want to use them? Do they see some value? It would give you a lower risk way of seeing how people respond to the product before you put a bunch of money in to manufacturing a whole ton of it, and then having it end up in your garage.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah. They are easy to make. The problem that we always have with the, it’s not nasty, but for example, we can make a new batch. I mean, I made a few batches of [inaudible 00:21:39] in it. It took about an hour each. It’s not overly time consuming, it’s just getting the ingredients correct.

Michael Kinzel:                 And I think the other thing we’re trying to work through is testing. How do we make and test, make and test, make and test as fast as possible? Because we have our testing equipment that we have, but it could take a while. So we’re trying to refine that process, develop a very fast development than test type methodology. I don’t think that it will cost more than a [inaudible 00:22:15]. I mean, the ingredients are not exotic. We have even flexibility in the ingredients, so we could kind of switch some of the ingredients up. I mean like Kareem said, “It’s like ginger, cornstarch.” And how do you make it in the context of a lozenge that they still remain effective.

Paul Jarley:                         So how much would they cost?

Michael Kinzel:                 I mean, when I make it in my home, it costs $2 and I make a hundred of them.

Paul Jarley:                         Cameron And Michael, what other thoughts do you have for these two?

Michael Pape:                   I mean, if you can make them, we’ve had plenty of people who is, Cameron said, “Take foodstuffs and make it.” And now, go to a farmers market, they’ll get customer feedback. But if you can make these ginger and cornstarch, I know it sounds like an Asian stir fry, but those are simple enough ingredients to utilize and begin to see what people would be interested in.

Michael Pape:                   The data that you have to generate, because it’s primarily would be a marketing play. You wouldn’t have to have this in a publication ready type data and all. That’d be more like a white paper, but it was done by real life scientists, but it wouldn’t be some sort of peer reviewed thing at all. It would be enough to be able to show this on a website. It’s a bit populous, it might be. You might recoil from that, but the fact of the matter is there’s different types of science for different types of products in order to get some traction.

Michael Kinzel:                 I mean, just a quick question there. If we were going after data, I mean, our data currently is like how far droplets traveling and what’s your exposure level at various distances, it’s very detailed data. And what I feel like you’re going after is more, either data associated with taste or is it data associated with transmission rate.

Michael Pape:                   No. That transmission rates would be too tough, but I think what you’re saying is about the projection. Let’s say of these… We talk about having maybe the money slide, the money slide is one where people see and they go, “Oh, I’ve got to have that.” If you had a money graph, which is you show plus and minus a couple of three ingredients, most people can read the graph that you showed the projectile is reduced significantly. That’s what you go into, particularly with healthcare professionals. And they might say, “Hey, I like this. We have family members coming in, we’re going to have them try it.”

Michael Kinzel:                 Can I show you our potentially money graph?

Michael Pape:                   Sure.

Michael Kinzel:                 Processed aerosols coming from a sneeze. This is a sneeze at the mask, and this is our ingredient or lozenge ingredients. And then this is a droplet projectiles. I would say that the lighter the color, the further in time it is. So this is a droplet that after like half a second.

Michael Pape:                   Yeah. There you go, Michael. This is the first page of the web of your website.

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah. I wonder how much the lodging guys are dismissing you because they’re not used to talking to engineers.

Michael Kinzel:                 Well, there’s not enough money in it, Paul.

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah. I know.

Michael Kinzel:                 There’s not enough money.

Paul Jarley:                         Markets-

Michael Kinzel:                 It’d be a low margin kind of thing and it’s just not worth, it’s not opportunity cost for them.

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah.

Cameron Ford:                  One thing you might want to look into is there’s a recent, I believe it was MIT in Oxford came up with a new way of classifying situations with regard to their risk of COVID transfer. And they looked at volume of speech as one of the variables. So they had being silent, a normal conversation or speaking loudly or singing along with all the other factors that we’re used to talking about.

Cameron Ford:                  I’m just wondering if using a lozenge, if you were in those kinds of higher volume settings might lower the risk because they used the kind of a green, yellow, red kind of stoplight kind of analogy to show which situations are safe and which were highly risky. You might be able to take a lot of yellow situations and make them green using a lozenge like this.

Michael Kinzel:                 Oh yeah, definitely. It basically makes your saliva in a way, like ketchup.

Cameron Ford:                  Nice.

Michael Kinzel:                 When you pour ketchup, it doesn’t-

Cameron Ford:                  I wouldn’t put that in the marketing [crosstalk 00:26:42].

Paul Jarley:                         I didn’t know if you’re selling it there. Yeah. I’m not sure you’re selling that.

Cameron Ford:                  Well, the things why they couldn’t get across that Mike and I really work hard with our students on. The methods that we advocate are really trying to get people to mitigate risks at every step in the process, by thinking about things that they don’t know yet and figuring out what’s the sort of least, the lowest commitment way in terms of resource expenditures, so we can utilize to figure that out.

Cameron Ford:                  So that’s why we’re talking about making small batches in your kitchen, taking those out and actually showing them to people, getting them to taste them and see if they can tolerate that. Show them this money slide and see if they get excited. There’s a lot of things you could do that would cost little to no money to learn a lot more about the potential attractiveness this might have for different consumers. And that’ll allow you to make more well-reasoned investment decisions, both in terms of time and money moving forward with this. So this is great stuff.

Paul Jarley:                         But it’s a very cheap solution, right guys? So it’s really about finding, in my mind, where the risk and the price point maybe kind of match.

Michael Pape:                   Yeah. It’s complimentary to current methodologies, the current approaches, the mask, the shield, the distancing. It’s just another one, it’s the three or four leaky buckets. None of those are perfect, but just smash them together, it can hold more water. Man, you guys, people, if they saw this kind of thing, you really would be all over the news, it’d be crazy because it’s simple to understand.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah.

Michael Pape:                   And the news agencies are looking for real life sciences to talk about stuff. You might be able to get some real traction. Even with this, I have to say.

Paul Jarley:                         You got to get Dr. Fauci to take one [crosstalk 00:28:36]. You got one influencer here, we got to get to him. He can’t throw a baseball.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah, we saw that.

Paul Jarley:                         We definitely said… So I’d interested to hear from Michael and Kareem, what do you think the learning lessons are for students here on your journey so far, what would you tell them?

Michael Kinzel:                 Never stopped thinking about what you’re doing and applying it to the real world. Sometimes you get wrapped under the axle on just details of flow. And I think it’s kind of cool to think of outside the box and apply what you learn. So Kareem and I both do aircraft almost exclusively, right? And what you learn in the context of an aircraft could be very applicable to almost any field.

Paul Jarley:                         Oh, handing them out on airplanes might be an interesting thing.

Michael Kinzel:                 Yeah. The airplanes would be a definite… Those are lists that we have kind of running airlines in our kind of like second approach.

Paul Jarley:                         Other thoughts for students? I’m sorry, gentlemen, I kind of cut you off. Cameron and Mike, any thoughts on that?

Cameron Ford:                  This a good example of the uncertainties that you face. There’s a lot of different possibilities, so taking a batch of these and visiting with various options you have here, would give you a lot of insight on who got excited and who would be most likely to use it. And you could lean into those enthusiastic people.

Paul Jarley:                         Mike [crosstalk 00:30:08] to follow up?

Michael Pape:                   Yeah. So many times I’m in the technical side of things. If you produce a patent in the academic setting, it’s a lot of times it’s a solution looking for a problem. And then it’s very difficult to think commercial, when you’re getting your PhD or you’re working on your manuscripts and all of that. But here’s one, because this has been so much in front of everybody’s space, which is intriguing, with the COVID. That you guys automatically took something from one field, fluid dynamics and applied it to our current problem.

Michael Pape:                   And the entire scientific community, people who never thought they’d be working in biology or in viruses have completely switched over, and are finding some way to attack this virus. And you guys did it simply because it was really right in front of your faces. And that’s a lesson is trying to expose yourself to what is going on in the world. And you’ll find these ways that will guide your research into a commercial vein perhaps. And that can be really powerful.

Paul Jarley:                         Kareem and Michael, how much more time are you willing to put into this project? What would make you stop, what would make you continue to go forward with it?

Michael Kinzel:                 If we can’t get money, it’s going to be really hard to really push out as a product. But I like the thinking that you’re saying on terms of just doing a little bit more research on, and looking a little bit more into some of the details to better potentially license. I think if we had more information and we get to continue to hit up licensing firms, that seems like, we’re still going to push that at least for the next year, if we’re able to get money in terms of…

Michael Kinzel:                 The other thing is, is do we get money from the government? That seems like an obvious one we’re going to push forward until we stopped getting money through this SBIR route. I don’t know how much I want to go into looking at foreign investors from other ends. I think if it fell right in front of me, I will do it. But I don’t know if I want to really push hard on that end and going to trade shows and these sorts of things. I mean, but we do have students and researchers that work with us that might be willing to do that. So I guess it’s not just us, it’s a whole team of people that are potentially pushing this.

Paul Jarley:                         Kareem, any other thoughts on that?

Kareem Ahmed:               I think, like you mentioned, that time commitment is always a challenge for this because it’s not our main core focus-

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah, it’s not your day job, right?

Kareem Ahmed:               Exactly. And I think that’s one of the things that is hindering us from moving this as quickly as we can primarily, because of that. So would we find a path where we completely take this and forget our day job, it’s a little bit challenging at least it takes off, right?

Paul Jarley:                         So Cameron and Mike, I’m going to put you on the spot here. Do they have a thing?

Cameron Ford:                  Well, I would encourage them to think more about the demand side and the customers you might go talk to, rather than the supply side, in terms of doing more research and kind of tweaking it in the lab. If you can drive to the airport, you can drive to a cruise ship port, there’s people you could talk very locally who would help you understand whether anybody’s excited about this. You might even be able to get a senior design student team involved in maybe going out and doing some of that legwork.

Cameron Ford:                  As I look at all these markets, I think it could be a thing. I think of probably a small to medium sized thing. It seems like this would be a very nichey kind of application, but I could definitely see there being some merit in some of these scenarios.

Paul Jarley:                         Mike.

Michael Pape:                   I don’t think it’s a thing yet. There needs to be product market-

Paul Jarley:                         It’s my podcast, so I get to go last. When I was at the university of Kentucky, I remember having a conversation with the Dean of engineering, where he claimed that all innovation occurred in the lab. I disagreed, and told him that innovation came from customer need. Mike Pape, said it best during this podcast. Frequently inventors have solutions looking for problems. One of the beauties of having engineers and scientists work with business folks is that they can help them find the right match. It’s why we’re so big on having business and engineering students work together in the college of business.

Paul Jarley:                         COVID is most definitely a problem. It has wreaked havoc with public health and the economy, but the COVID cough drop. Isn’t a solution for someone who has COVID, it’s a way to mitigate the spread of the virus to others, much like a mask. The key question is, whose problem does that solve? Maybe people who have loved ones, who are more likely to develop serious health problems than the virus, would purchase the cough drop to protect them, or companies that are trying to convince people that it’s safe to interact with their business might buy the cough drop in bulk and pass it out to people on airlines or cruise ships or at amusement parks or at sporting events.

Paul Jarley:                         But compliance with the cough drop taking would be tougher to monitor than wearing a mask. And the expense for mass gatherings could become pretty significant. Might the COVID cough drop find a niche market? Maybe, but I doubt it’s going to be the next big thing in defense against the virus. What do you think?

Paul Jarley:                         If you’re really geeky, and want to hear the extended conversation we had about the COVID cough drop, check out the show notes for this episode at You can also find extended interviews with our guests, and notes from the show. Special thanks to my producer, Josh Miranda, and the whole team at the office of outreach and engagement here at the UCF College of Business. And thank you for listening until next time, charge on.

Listen to all episodes of “Is This Really a Thing?” at