Marc Pollack, co-founder, AstRoNA Biotechnologies, on creating a detector to prevent food poisoning. It works on-site to screen all food types in under an hour – compared with today’s 48-hour standard food-safety process.
Some refreshments will be provided and plenty of time for networking.
General audiences welcome - talks will not require any academic knowledge of the topic to enjoy. In the spirit of business-academic collaboration, each talk will address the business applications of an academic topic, or involve a business operating in that field.
Some refreshments will be provided and plenty of time for networking at Vini Wine Bar to follow.
An event by the Davis Entrepreneurs Meetup
Food and produce companies spend over 4.5 billion dollars annually on food safety testing. Over 600 million tests are performed each year to detect human pathogens including E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella on food and in food production facilities. These costs are only a small portion of what companies pay to improve food safety, as each lot of product has to wait for the days required for testing to be completed, costing companies’ substantial revenues and reducing the shelf life of their products. Despite all of this effort, unsafe food finds its way to market, resulting in lost time and money via recalls. More importantly, the loss of trust in the brand that often results from these lapses can be catastrophic for even large companies. For example, Chipotle lost over 8 billion dollars in company valuation after its two highly publicized food safety outbreaks in just one quarter. The brand still has not recovered and the road to restoring consumers trust remains a long one.
Food-borne illness outbreaks happen every year and it is apparent that the current food safety testing system is broken. Current methods require shipping to an external lab or constructing an on-site lab. In the latter case, the cost of hiring technical staff and buying the expensive equipment required is enough that only large companies can manage to do it. It is not uncommon for companies to wait 2-5 days to receive food safety testing results. This means that the current system requires that food be held until safety testing results are obtained, resulting in lost revenues, or that the company ship before the results are known, risking all of the harms of an outbreak.
Astrona Biotechnologies recognizes the need for a change to this system and is developing easy-to-use, hand-held pathogen detection kits intended for deployment as food safety detectors. The determination of pathogen presence can be obtained in 1 hour, allowing companies to screen their products for safety before shipping. Our device uses our proprietary technology, developed by our founders at UC Davis, to detect the RNA of the pathogens allowing for the detection of bacteria, viruses and fungi without the need for a culturing step. This is much faster than current methods which require either in-house labs or third party service contracts and can take days to receive results.
The Team:Jeremy Warren is the CEO of Astrona Biotechnologies. He received his PhD in Plant Pathology from UC Davis and has over 15 years of experience in molecular biology-based solutions for microbial disease problems. Co-Founder Marc Pollack is finishing his PhD in Microbiology at UC Davis. Marc also has a Masters in Biotechnology with an emphasis in business and product discovery/development from the Keck institute. CTO Pieter Oort has over 20 years’ experience in genetic based start-ups and product development. Astrona also has a strong scientific advisory board consisting of; UC Davis Professors: Maria Marco, Josh Hihath, Bryce Falk, Erkin Seker, Andre Knoesen, CEO of Circularis Paul Feldstein and Michael Bowles a business advisor.