The incidence of foodborne illnesses is a growing global problem. Just in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that annually “1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.”
A startup headquartered in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, BIOsens, is actively addressing this public health issue: it has developed an IoT biosensor device to quickly detect mycotoxins in food.
CEO and founder Andrii Karpiuk and his partners COO Olexandr Hudz and CTO Tetiana Yatsenko began work on BIOsens in February 2016. Since then, they participated in several startup programs, accelerators and workshops including the Kickstart Accelerator in Switzerland and the SABIT IT training program in the US.
According to Karpiuk, “today there are many poisonous substances in products, such as pesticides, antibiotics, heavy metals, mycotoxins, etc. And today to make such dignostics it is necessary to send samples to the laboratory, or buy expansive equipment. It takes a lot of time and needs highly-qualified personnel,” he says in a video.
He firmly believes that the BIOsens testing device is simpler to use and yields faster results than competing methods.
So when will the production of the BIOsens IoT device actually start? “After raising money, we need eight months,” said Karpiuk. His company is currently undergoing a seed round of investment in the amount of $470,000, which he hopes will close by the end of 2018.
It will probably be manufactured in Ukraine to maintain tighter control over the production process instead of in China where it could at least initially cost less. “I think that you produce it in Ukraine to control it. And for us it’s more useful,” says Karpiuk.
He emphasizes that his greatest challenge has been to hire talented staff that are passionate about food safety and want to make the world better operating under tight financial restraints. He has been successful in attracting key advisors, including the Ukrainian businessman and angel investor Roman Kravchenko and serial entrepreneur Oleg Naumenko.
At the end of 2017, Karpiuk was selected for the list of 100 changemakers in Eastern Europe picked by Res Publica, the Warsaw-based journal, Google, Visegrad Fund and the Financial Times. He was included with six other Ukrainian entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
More recently, on October 2, 2018 the forum “Eco Innovations and Green Business: Made in Ukraine” was held in Kyiv. At this event the outlook for Ukrainian “green” exports of low-carbon and technology-friendly technologies was discussed. It was organized by Greencubator with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
BIOsens was named at the forum among the six Ukrainian startup winners in the fourth wave of the Climate Innovation Vouchers grant program. The grant of €50,000 will help the company initiate pilot testing and develop a prototype to enter their market.
Karpiuk says he would rather have investors who understand precisely what mycotoxins are and the problems they cause in food than huge sums of money. He wants to benefit society and help solve the issue of foodborne illness through the effective use of biotechnology.
- You can hear a recent interview with Andrii Karpiuk discussing his company BIOsens here.