Untap, a UK start-up that has developed a device capable of detecting and monitoring the spread of infectious diseases in sewage, has just secured a £100k investment from British Design Fund, as part of a £1.1m fundraise from specialist funds and angel investors.
The London-based company, whose wastewater surveillance system can provide real-time data on community health, will use the funding to continue the development of its technology, while supporting the expansion of its team, as it prepares to bring its device to market.
Co-founded by Imperial College London alumni, Dr Claire Trant and Dr Jay Bullen, Untap is on a mission to transform the way viral diseases are detected. With backgrounds in watertech and sewagetech, the team set about creating a cost-effective solution for tracking community health via wastewater after seeing the problems of current testing methods during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Claire Trant explains: “Wastewater surveillance monitors health on a community-scale, non-invasively. However, up until now those services have been manual and therefore slow and expensive. We knew there was a need for an automated solution, which we’re building at Untap.
“We are already seeing an increase in pandemics and the more we live in densely populated environments, the more we are likely to see them happening. Through the work we are doing we hope to help health agencies prepare and act at speed to address these outbreaks.”
Untap’s patent pending, automated and real-time wastewater surveillance system can detect viruses, such as Covid-19, to monitor community prevalence and identify case rates without the need for individual testing. The technology is able to detect a single infected person amongst 10,000 that are healthy and can monitor a whole community for diseases using one test while ensuring 100% participation.
Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund (BDF), said: “We’re delighed to welcome Untap to the BDF portfolio. Monitoring viral outbreaks through individual testing is expensive, time consuming and invasive. Untap offers a solution with technology that has huge potential to help monitor and tackle transmissible diseases across the world. Our investee committee were not only impressed by the calibre of the Untap team but also the potential of their technology to impact on global communities.”