CIMA Life Science

    • duquesne cima

Dr. Jashwant Sharma migrated from India to the US in 1970 to further his studies, arriving with only eight dollars in his pocket. He graduated with a degree in internal medicine/nephrology from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Sharma became involved in ophthalmology in the early 1980s after his father went blind from glaucoma. He was the first person to establish an intraocular lens manufacturing company for cataract patients in India using U.S. technology, but due to competitive forces that demanded a “Made in USA” product, Dr. Sharma moved his company, CIMA Life Science, to Pittsburgh. He built a state-of-the-art green building where eighty percent of his employees lived less than three miles away, resulting in less transportation and thus less pollution.  

Once in the U.S., Dr. Sharma faced the challenge of complying with FDA certification in order to sell into the US market: a long and expensive process that he did not have sufficient capital for. However, the Federal Drug Administration stated that he could manufacture in the U.S. under FDA strict quality guidelines and make the product “export-only.” To sell internationally, he then had to comply with international certifications such as the CE MARK, the ISO 9000, and the ISO 13485. Having those certifications accepted, his company was ready to tackle the international market.

Dr. Sharma became aware of the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through his sales manager, who introduced him to the Duquesne University SBDC Global Business Program Manager. Dr. Sharma approached the SBDC for help with CE Mark certification and was referred to the Center for International Regulatory Assistance (at Duquesne University). They worked with him to acquire the CE Mark. He also received export training, help developing export strategies, market research, and referrals to other resources and contacts.

As a result of working with the Duquesne University SBDC, the company was able to secure more contacts in Mexico and grow their international sales. CIMA export sales went from $1.9 million in 2013 to $2.5 million in 2014. Their number of employees went from 18 in 2013 to 20 in 2014. Early on, the company received an SBA 504 loan of $1.2 million. Dr. Sharma was later invited to present his company and export case to the Pennsylvania Business Technology Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  He also built a charitable eye hospital in rural India to help the poor, with over 50,000 patient visits annually.