ColiSense: In-minutes Bacteria Sensor for Water

We fabricate novel sensors indicating if there is bacteria in water in minutes, which normally takes days.

Photo of Ahmet Kuzubaşlı
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

RF-SENS Electronics Inc.

Year founded

2015

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10 - 50

Organization type

  • For-profit

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • Turkey

Headquarters location: City

Ankara

Location(s) of impact

Beneficiaries are located in several cities but they distribute water in all across the country, Turkey.

Website

www.arefsens.com.tr

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Unlike other standard tests, detection of bacteria in water takes 2-3 days due to incubation process at laboratories. This long and ancient procedure has not been so advanced in years compared to other technologies. There's been a need for a disruptive technology as it causes both economical costs in daily operations of bottled-water manufacturers and threats public health due to less frequent analysis of water in distribution systems.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

In Middle East Technical University (METU), we have developed a patent-pending disposable biochips exploiting Radio Frequency (RF) waves to detect bacteria without incubation process which enumerates bacteria and makes them countable with naked eye. The technology uses microfluidic channels and disposable test chips are microfabricated. In short, we did reverse. Rather than making bacteria macroscopic, we minimize the region of detection.
Being uniquely capable of addressing this problem, we envisioned that this innovation will create value not only for public health, environmental sustainability and also or us with a solid business model. Thus, me and 2 professors cofounded a company named, RF-SENS with a flagship product, ColiSense.
By 10$-ColiSense biochips, it all takes around 40 minutes to detect E.Coli bacteria in water samples. Now, Nestle Waters in Turkey and some other companies are able to decide whether they can bottle and ship the products on the same day.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

ColiSense project, firstly, has provided jobs to more than 5 researchers and engineers who would have to go abroad to work at high-tech companies. This interdisciplinary team is able to fabricate up to 150k sensors in a year with parallel fabrication of sensors on wafers. Nestle Waters (Erikli) in Turkey was one of the companies who shows interest at first place. Next year, we plan to sell more than 200 companies and Istanbul Water and Sewage Administration (iSKi) which is responsible for providing water to 17 million people.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Beside personal investments, we have got grants from various national and global organizations such as UNDP. Firstly, Turkish government supported us as our technology is critical both for public health and as a precaution against bioterrorism. We have also awarded as Global Water Category Winner at CleanTech Open supported UNIDO, UNDP and GEF.
Ahmet, a cofounder, has been selected as "Ten Outstanding Young Person - World 2017" by JCI (Junior Chamber International) which is the 3rd biggest NGO of the world.
Lastly, we are a participant in a EU project with an overall budget of 10M euro, AQUACOSM (www.aquacsom.eu).

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We are able to fabricate our patent-pending products at high volumes (as they are fabricated like transistors) on silicon wafers and we use RF waves which are much less vulnerable to other impurities in water. As it is all electronics, they are cheaper and have a high potential to be used for online water monitoring in smart cities.
Last but not the least, we have not let it to stay as an academic work but rather we took the risk and did our best to commercialize it by providing CSV.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

In a lovely city of La Rochelle, France, I have been invited to present my works in a conference. During my presentation, I have realized how frequently I was using the word "micro". We use microfabrication techniques to create gold-coated microchips to operate at microwave frequencies. Gold is an inevitable material for biochemical surface modification with bacteria-spesific antibodies and bacteria is also micron-sized. All micro, then why do we need macro!
Aha!! If we integrate a microchannel into our gold coated plates modified with antibodies to capture bacteria and apply microwaves, we can detect their response to these waves as they are in microchips.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 33.3%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 33.3%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

2. Innovation

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Social and/or Environmental Impact

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 33.3%

4. Financial sustainability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 100%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

5. Potential to Scale / Replicability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

6. Organizational Leadership

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

7. Potential for Creating Shared Value

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

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