The Rise of Rapid Consumer Detection Technologies: A 2022 Outlook

COVID-19 has sensitized us to the burden of infections, illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths that can result from living in a globalized world. At the end of 2021, nearly 150 million Americans were estimated to have been infected with COVID. Even for those of us fortunate to have not been infected or symptomatically ill, the nightmare has been around us. And given its high prevalence, the virus has almost certainly affected someone we know.

While the costs and disruptions from COVID are still being tallied – lives lost, schools closed, travel curtailed, offices emptied, and businesses shuttered – numerous start-ups are rising to not only tackle the pandemic but also prevent future ones. 

Their efforts have targeted not only COVID, but also other common sources of infection such as strep and urinary tract infection bacteria. This trend is motivated as much by the emergence of new pathogens as it is opportunities to improve detection speed, sensitivity, specificity, ease of use, and access compared to earlier over-the-counter and at-home tests, or make them available for personal use whereas until now they had been confined to labs. Examples of companies offering these new tests include EverlyWell, Cue, Proov, Poppy, as well as one of our portfolio companies, Allergy Amulet. 

With advances in physical chemistry, the science around rapid, point-of-consumption detection has been advancing quickly. Electronics and electromechanical device innovations are simultaneously enabling detection systems that are more compact and portable. Allergy Amulet’s first product is a consumer device that detects allergenic ingredients in food, helping those with food allergies better determine whether their food is safe. Future applications include toxin, pathogen, and pesticide detection. 

At Great North Ventures, we are excited to support entrepreneurs seeking to make the world healthier and safer. The rise of rapid, simple, point-of-use detection technologies promises just that.

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