Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 16th March 2023 Issue no. 1056
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Imperial startup developing hygiene-verification technology raises £625,000
FreshCheck, a startup developing colour-change tools for hygiene verification, has raised £625,000 seed investment from investors including the Imperial College Innovation Fund, reports Gavin Reed.
Founded by Imperial PhD alumni Dr John Simpson and Dr Alex Bond, FreshCheck creates intuitive tools for confirming hygiene in a range of markets such as food, hospitality and healthcare. On application to a surface, the technology, which uses iron-dye interaction, appears purple. If it changes colour, then the surface is contaminated with either bacteria or food residue and must be cleaned again.
The ICIF, which invests in startup companies with a strong connection to Imperial College London, (such as those founded by students, members of staff or alumni, or companies which have engaged extensively with Imperial's entrepreneurial ecosystem) has invested £250,000 as part of a £625,000 seed round, alongside investment from Peter Norris and Peter Trill. Peter Norris, an existing investor and chair of the Virgin Group, will join FreshCheck's board as chairman.
This seed round will support the development and marketing of new products, including a swab test and a handwipe, with application in the facilities management, healthcare, food and beverage, and consumer industries.
"We know that hygiene testing is essential for many businesses, and that public concern with hygiene and insistence on high standards has grown enormously during the pandemic," says Dr Alex Bond, chief executive officer of FreshCheck. "We're excited about taking our patented colour-change technology to the market and delivering products that will help businesses verify hygiene rapidly and accurately. This funding round will help us do that at the right time."
FreshCheck is a disruptive offering aimed at increasing the prevalence and use of hygiene testing in hospitality, restaurants and catering and extending its use to other markets. Though hygiene testing in the food industry is already commonplace, FreshCheck believes the market standard technology is expensive and onerous to use.
Using versatile and adaptable chemistry, FreshCheck's technology is a test that produces a colour change on contact with bacteria or food residues. It can be packaged in a variety of ways depending on use case. Where ATP swab testing (the market standard) requires a potentially costly reader device and professional training to operate and calibrate, FreshCheck's technology is simple and instantly readable.
The company is also developing a companion app that will facilitate auditable hygiene record keeping, supporting businesses in ensuring safety and compliance with health standards.
Chief Technology Officer, Dr John Simpson, explains: "Our proprietary technology is simple for users - it creates a colour change on contact with bacteria or food debris. It is also flexible, and we believe that in any market where contamination is an issue, or where there is a need to confirm cleanliness, we can build a product to help."
Dr Brijesh Roy, seed investment manager at Imperial College London, comments:
"FreshCheck's founding team has worked extensively with experts and mentors at Imperial and industry advisers to develop their underlying technology. Building on existing customer demand, they have a plan in place to extend their product range and reach new markets. We're delighted to have made this investment at a key point in FreshCheck's journey."
(c) Imperial College London
16th September 2021