Food safety tool earns $100K from innovation fund
A Purdue startup, which was just named to a prestigious business school list of “most fundable” companies for its foodborne pathogen detector, is also reaping awards at home. West Lafayette-based OmniVis was awarded this week a $100,000 grant from the Purdue Ag-Celerator, an agriculture innovation fund. The OmniVis team developed a hand-held device to rapidly detect pathogens in food, water and the agriculture production chain.
In an interview with Inside Indiana Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta, OmniVis CEO and co-founder Katherine Clayton explained the relevance of iSpyDx.
“We’ve created a handheld device that can rapidly detect for foodborne pathogens, like E. coli in under 30 minutes, anywhere in the world,” said Clayton, who explained users can take the data, map it and put it on a cloud platform, “so that people can mitigate for risk in the future and have better food handling processes.”
Last month, the biotechnology company was named to the Most Fundable Companies list from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School. Pepperdine says companies that qualify for the list are “worthy of serious investor consideration.”
The company initially developed the technology to help detect cholera, which is a bacterial disease often spread by contaminated or untreated water in underdeveloped countries. According to the World Health Organization, cholera outbreaks are still a serious problem in other parts of the world.
“[But] we couldn’t access a lot of our customers that were halfway across the world. We saw that there were customers here in the United States that we could also help with different types of diseases and infectious pathogens, and so we decided to focus more stateside and look at food related diseases.
Clayton says with one in every six people in the U.S. getting a food-related illness every year, OmniVis realized there is a domestic need.
“At the end of the day, growers just want to put food on our tables. They don’t have any intention of anything bad. We want to be able to eat and not go to the hospital for what we’re eating. So, we want to have this win-win situation for everyone involved,” Clayton said.
Clayton says the device performs to laboratory method standards but does not require special equipment or training. OmniVis will use the funding grant to establish a field pilot for the device.
“The funding will help us to test our solution in real-world settings and make more connections in the agricultural community. We see the Ag-Celerator as an incredible opportunity to work with amazing talent in the agricultural community across Purdue and the state of Indiana,” said Clayton.
The Purdue Ag-Celerator was created in 2015. The $2 million innovation fund is designed to provide critical startup support for Purdue innovators who bring Purdue’s patented intellectual property or Purdue’s “know-how” technologies to market. The fund is operated by Purdue Ventures.