This biotech startup is reducing the risk of airborne infections using decontamination tech
Airborne diseases, including influenza, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and now, COVID-19, are a growing concern across the world.
Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, people realised the importance of keeping safe. Decontamination, sanitisation, and cleanliness became a priority for many.
Bengaluru-based biotech startup Biomoneta Research — spun out of antibiotics discovery startup Bugworks — aims to reduce the risk of airborne infections through its patent-pending indoor air decontamination device, ZeBox, which traps and kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spores.
Founded in 2014 by Arindam Ghatak and Janani Venkataraman, Biomoneta’s flagship product ZeBox claims to provide over 90 percent efficiency in any setup. The plug-and-play device does not use UV lights or radiation for decontamination, making it safe and suitable for use, even while sitting next to it.
Speaking with YourStory, the co-founders revealed thathas now got their devices validated by third-party ICMR/NABL/ISO-accredited labs.
“We recently secured a validation analysis from IISc Bangalore, where they tested our device on actual SARS-CoV-2 viruses, and these were moving around and were not on a stationary piece. The device showed an efficiency of 99.99999 percent in five minutes, which means the device could remove 10 million live COVID-19 viruses in five minutes,” he adds.
Biomoneta commercially launched the device earlier in May, and so far, has deployed about 100 units. The startup is looking to clock in $500,000 in revenue next year.
“We were determined to create a solution, which could be placed even next to a dying patient and will not harm them. All of us come from bioscience backgrounds, and we, fortunately, understood microbiology and infectious disease biology. Very soon, we realised the exact disadvantages of the present methods, which are termed as clean air tech,” Arindam tells YourStory.
Trapping and killing microbes
Most air purifiers or cleaners trap the microbes but do not kill them. So, when users change the filter, they release the microbes back into the atmosphere.
Amidst the pandemic, startups such as Allabout Innovations, O2Cure, etc., started providing air purification and decontamination solutions. However, Biomoneta believes ZeBox stands out from its competitors as it is designed to trap the harmful disease-causing microbes in the air and kill them.
“We came up with our technology to trap these microbes onto a proprietary surface using an electric field and kill it simultaneously. Our objective was to track microbes, kill them simultaneously, and develop a technology that would be unharmful to human beings,” Arindam says.
Janani says COVID-19 made people realise that protecting themselves or others from infection is everyone’s responsibility.
While the product was launched for B2B clients, especially hospitals, clinics, and offices across Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Kerala among others, the startup is seeing interest from individuals for their homes for protecting their family and friends, especially those with health conditions.
The products are priced between Rs 40,000 and Rs 2.5 lakh, depending on the area that needs to be decontaminated.
Ventilation versus air decontamination
Janani says, in most cases, ventilation is the best way to flush out disease-causing pathogens in the indoor air. However, decontamination tech becomes important when it is difficult for people to expose themselves to ventilation.
“During the pandemic, there were people who never left their homes and were mostly inside, with no windows open. When you have specific germs like the SARS-CoV-2 virus, ventilation may not always be possible. In situations where you can't expose yourself to open ventilation and you are dealing with pathogens, decontamination and sterilisation solutions become important,” she adds.
Funding and plans ahead
C-CAMP incubated Biomoneta had raised an undisclosed round of funding from Beyond Next Ventures (BNV), along with ArthaVida Ventures and IVF specialist and angel investor, Dr Aniruddha Malpani, last year.
“Biomoneta as a C-CAMP incubated startup is testimony to what deep-science led innovations can do to solve a crucial problem for COVID-19 and non-COVID air-borne infections. Backed by superb COVID-related data, Biomoneta's ZeBox is the future in air decontamination,” says Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, CEO of C-CAMP.
BNV made its investment under CBIH (C-CAMP – BNV Innovation Hub) programme, a joint funding activity that contributes to both the Japanese and Indian ecosystems and economies.
Speaking with YourStory, Mayu Yoshikawa, Executive Officer, Beyond Next Ventures, says Biomoneta is the first investment from the CBIH scheme.
“The global implication of the problem and the solution has justified our faith in Biomoneta. With the constant looming threat of a pandemic not receding, ZeBox can be a powerful preventive technology in high-risk areas like hospitals and other closed spaces like homes, offices, QSRs, the hospitality sector, etc., to check air-borne transmission of the virus and other secondary infections,” Mayu adds.
At present, Biomoneta is looking to raise its pre-Series A fund. The startup is also looking for partners to increase its reach.
Speaking about future plans, Janani says, “We hope to sell the first 500 devices over the next six months. And double that over the year. There has been a lot of interest in markets outside India, specifically Dubai and Malaysia. We are hoping to explore those markets over the next year.”
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Edited by Suman Singh