This Pocket Sized Device Detects Pathogens, Pronto

What does it take to be a Techstar? To participate in the R/GA Accelerator powered by Techstars, you’ve got to be connected, since it’s all about Connected Devices.

Like the ones from Diagenetix, a team of researchers at the University of Hawaii who, cumulatively, have over 30 years experience in molecular and biological research, engineering, and business.

They’ve developed Smart Dart, a low-cost, portable diagnostics tool providing food producers, processors, and buyers a start-to-finish view of their pathogen risk.   The pocket-sized detector is like having your own portable lab – and you don’t have to wait the usual three days for the results. You have them in minutes. Right in the palm of your hand!

It uses sensor-detection and data streams to screen the food processing chain – that’s the ‘connected’ part.

Cofounder Scott Shibata tells us more, and about the team’s decision to participate in the accelerator program.

Tell us about the decision to apply for R/GA Accelerator, and how has the experience been thus far?

The decision was quite easy, given the reputation of both R/GA and Techstars. It’s an amazing opportunity to work and learn from them and all the mentors. Thus far, the experience has been a lot of work, but invigorating.

Tell us about your product.

We have a small, portable biology detector. It’s a lab in your pocket and will change the way agriculture and public health is managed, moving it away from centralized to the edge, from mail-order to real-time.

How is it different?

Currently, to test for any type of disease, whether it be a plant disease or one that is foodborne and makes us sick (bacteria: e.coli, viruses: norovirus, molds: e.necator), farmers and food producers have to send it to a lab and wait at least three days. With our detector, you can do it immediately.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

The agricultural and food safety market is a $5B market. With a growing population, we are going to not only need to make sure we minimize crop losses due to disease and spoilage but also make sure it is safe.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

In the next six months, we plan to expand work with our existing customers and begin pilots with additional integrated food producers and processors.

What is your take on the current scene in New York today?

NY is great! There are so many interesting entrepreneurs and people helping entrepreneurs here. It and the cold (we’re from Hawaii) are invigorating.

What are you looking forward to doing most in NYC during this upcoming winter?

We are excited to move our business forward and connect to the local investment and food community here. I got a chance to visit Brooklyn Grange Farm this morning, and visit with Ben Flanner. What he and his group are doing is fantastic and look forward to connecting and hopefully helping more like them while I’m here.


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