Solution overview

Our Solution

OmniVis

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Tagline

Put the power of the lab in the palm of your hand.

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Pitch us on your solution

Current cholera detection platforms are time intensive, costly, and imprecise, exacerbating widescale disease outbreaks throughout the world. This disease causes approximately 3-5 million cases across the globe each year and wastes $2 billion each year in treatments and lost productivity that could be avoidable through early detection.

OmniVis’ hardware device and single-use test kit attaches to a smartphone and reduces the detection process from 3-5 days down to 30 minutes, accurately and affordably. Additionally, OmniVis’ data gathering & reporting tools provide insights over disease hotspots; enabling earlier warning before widescale outbreaks occur. 

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Film your elevator pitch

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What is the problem you are solving?

In 2019, Yemen is undergoing the largest cholera outbreak in history while Cyclone Idai initiated an outbreak in Mozambique. There are 41 countries and 5M people affected by cholera annually. This leads to $2B in costs spent in cholera treatments and lost productivity that could be avoidable through early detection. Current water-based cholera detection approaches take up to a week, and are intensive, costly, and imprecise. Lengthy or inaccurate approaches exacerbate wide-scale outbreaks.

Prevention strategies are a lower priority in low-resource communities due to the effort needed with current detection methods. Aid organizations work momentous hours to suppress disease spread. Early detection of the cholera pathogen in water with a rapid, portable device would enable proactive remediation strategies.  

The time it currently takes for laboratories to detect cholera leaves communities vulnerable to illness or death. Proactive cholera detection can change humanitarian aid response, by knowing where and when to send resources. OmniVis works with NGOs, as they provide distribution networks and expertise. At OmniVis, success looks like providing 1.8M people with access to safe water over the next 18-months. Our key indicator will be the number of water sources where our technology proactively detects cholera before someone falls ill.

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Who are you serving?

The ecosystem around OmniVis consists of aid organizations, governmental organizations, first responders, and communities affected by cholera. Our venture initially focuses on sales to humanitarian aid organizations (Médecins Sans Frontières, Code for Africa) and water testing laboratories in emerging markets (Emerging Pathogens Institute, icddr,b). They would use OmniVis to benefit community members in urban or rural regions of Haiti, Kenya, Uganda Yemen, and Bangladesh. Aid organizations see value in OmniVis due to the few hours of training time needed to operate the device, high accuracy, and solution alignment. We are working on partnerships to pilot our technologies and redesign the platform to most seamlessly fit in their workflow. Within aid organizations, we will later target first responders for emergency situations. The rapid time toward detection and automated record keeping allow first responders to do their job swiftly while maintaining key performance indicators for their parent organizations.

 

A community potentially affected by cholera, would benefit from early indicators of the disease in water. Community members would be informed to treat their water or to go to the doctor. We are working toward education strategies and campaigns to raise awareness and trust of OmniVis in the community.

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What is your solution?

OmniVis wanted to change the way that cholera detection was performed in order to make progress toward disease eradication. OmniVis demonstrated innovation with their technology in two ways. The first is through the method in which they detect for cholera. We have room temperature stable chemistries that, when in contact with water, rehydrate and react with the toxin DNA gene of cholera (if it is present). After the DNA reaction occurs, OmniVis uses proprietary algorithms to detect for cholera presence. This method enables us to detect for cholera in 30 minutes in water, rather than 1 week. The second innovation is in the data. Where most point-of-use disease detection devices are handheld and easy-to-use, they lack automated data collection or analysis. Our technology uses a smartphone to perform advanced calculations, map and time-stamp the detection events, analyze the data and store it on a cloud-based platform with a personal log-in portal, and send automated data notifications to NGOs, governments, community leaders, or other participants. This data component provides a newfound advantage to our customers and partners, because they can use it to be proactive in disease outbreak control, rather than reactive and responding when the situation is out of hand.

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Which dimensions of the challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Prevent infectious disease outbreaks and vector-borne illnesses
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Where is your solution team headquartered?

West Lafayette, IN, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype

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More about your solution

Select one of the below:

New technology

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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

OmniVis wanted to change the way that cholera detection was performed in order to make progress toward disease eradication. OmniVis demonstrated innovation with their technology in two ways. The first is through the method in which they detect for cholera. We have room temperature stable chemistries that, when in contact with water, rehydrate and react with the toxin DNA gene of cholera (if it is present). After the DNA reaction occurs, OmniVis uses proprietary algorithms to detect for cholera presence. This method enables us to detect for cholera in 30 minutes in water, rather than 1 week. The second innovation is in the data. Where most point-of-use disease detection devices are handheld and easy-to-use, they lack automated data collection or analysis. Our technology uses a smartphone to perform advanced calculations, map and time-stamp the detection events, analyze the data and store it on a cloud-based platform with a personal log-in portal, and send automated data notifications to NGOs, governments, community leaders, or other participants. This data component provides a newfound advantage to our customers and partners, because they can use it to be proactive in disease outbreak control, rather than reactive and responding when the situation is out of hand.

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Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.

Katherine developed the algorithms and methodology behind the OmniVis detection platform in her PhD. What she noticed was that when DNA amplifies, a solution becomes more viscous, like honey. Therefore, she developed image processing algorithms to quantify the change in viscosity of solutions at the microscopic and nanoscopic level and applied these results to pathogen detection. Therefore, on the OmniVis platform, there are temperature stable chemistries that rehydrate when they come in contact with an environmental water sample. The solution is heated on the OmniVis platform for 25 minutes and then placed under a microscope system that works with a smartphone camera. The camera films the solution for 1 minute, and a smartphone application assesses the solution for another minute to determine its viscosity. If the cholera pathogen is present, the solution will be viscous from the chemical reaction. If the cholera pathogen is absent, the solution will not be viscous. After the smartphone application displays the result, it time-stamps and geotags the location that the test was performed in, to show where the pathogen is present or absent. This technique is covered under two pending patents through Purdue University. OmniVis has agreements to license the technology from Purdue. 

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Big Data
  • Internet of Things
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Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?

OmniVis participated in the national NSF I-Corps program, performing over 200 customer discovery interviews to assess product-market fit. Further, all of our partnerships were made from organizations reaching out to us through search. Due to the overwhelming response from I-Corps and our partners and pilots, we believe that there is a clear need for rapid cholera detection.

 

Cholera leads to over 5 million infections in 41 countries, annually by drinking or bathing in contaminated water. This leads to $2B in lost productivity and treatments. Currently, a patient with cholera can die within hours if left untreated. It takes 1 week to detect for cholera in water. However, our solution detects for cholera in under 30-minutes in water (240x faster) and needs a high school education to operate. When we detect the disease, the device sends notifications to organizations to come to the area in need with doctors, chlorine tablets, or filters to immediately stop the outbreak from spreading.

 

Due to the nearly one week long process needed for cholera detection, laboratory costs are incredibly expensive. Each individual cholera test costs $100, a mapping system costs $2000, and laboratory equipment for the test totals $150,000. Our device improves affordability by providing a test that is $10, and a combined equipment and mapping system for $1000. Therefore, organizations to do more frequent water testing for cholera. Further, our data component enables better access to healthcare by providing information to governments and NGOs who can respond immediately with doctors and water remediation tools.

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Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children and Adolescents
  • Infants
  • Rural Residents
  • Peri-Urban Residents
  • Urban Residents
  • Very Poor/Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Refugees/Internally Displaced Persons
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Bangladesh
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Haiti
  • Kenya
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How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?

OmniVis incorporated in October of 2017. Therefore, OmniVis is still in the piloting phase of the company and not reached commercialization yet. However, we will reach this point in the next 8 months. Rather, in the last 5 years, the science behind OmniVis provided 40 students with research to achieve a PhD, master's degree, or undergraduate research and design. Further, this work yielded numerous scientific papers and conference presentations, helping 3 professors win grant money and further their careers in academia. OmniVis has also worked with universities on capstone projects, the CEO has taught over 2000 students, and worked with integrated courses. We are working with the largest cholera hospital in the world, icddr,b, in Bangladesh to see how we can best improve our device, and Code for Africa in Kenya to help slum communities by preventative water testing in the next several months. We will work with several organizations to test 200 water sites in the country this September. 


At OmniVis, success looks like improving 1,487,063 lives in conflict-affected communities and providing 1,800,000 people with access to safe water over the next 18-months. Our key indicator will be the number of water sources where our technology proactively detects cholera before someone falls ill. In the next 5 years we hope to be helping well over 4,000,000 people with our solution every year. In 10-15 years we are targeting 8,000,000 people around the globe by providing access to safe water through cholera detection as well as typhoid and E. coli.

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Initially, OmniVis will focus on its cholera testing platform to establish a presence in the waterborne testing market.

 

We are in line with sustainable development goals #3 and #6. We have three social impact goals in the next year; (1) Having 2-3 villages that no longer require a health aid worker for cholera treatment purposes in the next 1 year. (2) To reliably predict cholera outbreak with 85% accuracy. This aligns with sustainable development goal #3 to therefore eliminate wide scale cholera outbreaks, promoting good health and well-being. (3) To reduce the test result for detecting cholera in 30 minutes. This aligns with sustainable development goal #6 for clean water and sanitation initiatives, so that water sources can be treated before communities are affected. We will first perform a pilot study to assess usability and scientific reliability of the device. With these results we will iterate. We can initiate sales of our product and measure the number of tests that are being performed in these communities and how our outbreak data analytics change as a result of usage.

 

By changing the chemistry in our test kit, we can detect a variety of diseases over the next 5 years. We will leverage our knowledge and platform to expand into blood-based clinical testing. We have shown success in detecting bacteria related to sepsis, HIV, malaria, and dengue. By expanding the number of diseases we can detect at the point-of-use, the more proactive measures we can take for prevention of disease spread.

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What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?

  • The first barrier that currently exists is that governments maintain politically-driven interest in proving their country is considered developed. 
  • A community member may have language barriers, hesitation with technology, limited access to smartphones, or inaccurate medical knowledge. 
  • An NGO could be wary due to logistical challenges in implementing any data.
  • When raising money, an investor may not be mission driving and could be hesitant to invest.
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How are you planning to overcome these barriers?

  • For our first barrier, regarding overcoming governmental barriers, motivating politicians to be cholera-free would be part of efforts to drive tourism and increase international standing. We would demonstrate the economic benefits of early detection and disease prevention toward increasing economic savings and the optics of the nation. Further, we would avoid emphasizing sharing of cholera case data internationally, as countries may not want to broadcast cholera prevalence. We could consider using examples of other countries that successfully used OmniVis or other cholera detection mechanisms to achieve cost savings.
  • As for working with community members, OmniVis would focus on simply conveying how cholera is spread and how to detect the disease. We would harness local leaders to convey messages to their community in a culturally appropriate manner.
  • For the NGO, OmniVis will demonstrate detail of the device's functionality and instill confidence that the tool works. We will emphasize past success and assurance that the team has thought through logistics. 
  • For the investor, we will create content that focuses on business value and growth over time, ROI in an associated time period, roadmaps and implementation, and long-term/short-term goals.
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About your team

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For-profit

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If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.

N/A

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How many people work on your solution team?

We have 2 full-time, 3 part-time employees and 5 contractors at OmniVis. The OmniVis team is small but nimble. We have the technology, science, marketing, and operations background needed to propel our company toward commercialization. Where we lack facilities and tools, we contract out to universities (Purdue and Notre Dame), R&D manufacturing (Wainamics and Novatein Biosciences), accounting (Liz is all Biz), UI/UX team, electronics freelancer, and NGO partners (Médecins sans Frontières). 

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For how many years have you been working on your solution?

2

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Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?

Fellow co-owners have expertise that led the company to its success. The underlying algorithms of all OmniVis technology originated from Katherine’s PhD work. It was her passion of translating academic global health research to commercial devices that lead her to form OmniVis with the help of fellow co-owners. Katherine led OmniVis to win 7 pitch competitions and completed two incubators, Project Entrepreneur and Halcyon. Co-owner Dr. Tamara Kinzer-Ursem is active on the start-up front with experience in biotechnology driven start-ups, and has a laboratory dedicated to the study of novel bioconjugation methods and protein engineering. Co-owner Dr. Jacqueline Linnes has experience in molecular diagnostics for global health with active collaborations in Haiti, Ecuador, and Kenya. She has an active collaboration for V. cholerae detection with the Emerging Pathogens Institute in Gressier, Haiti. She also started another company, Pota Vida, to develop systems for water sanitation and data logging. Finally, Dr. Steven Wereley is an optics and microfluidics expert. He brings novel approaches to the team with fluid analysis algorithms and optics development strategies. 


Lynne Cheng, the Head of Operations of OmniVis brings her ability to maximize on limited resources, operate independently to find solutions, and organize and prioritize operations for optimal efficiency. She worked on product development and marketing experience from HTC Vive, operations at Girls Who Code, operations experience from Kipp Schools and teaching at Americorps. Her experience will provide OmniVis with insight of paths to commercialization and efficiently operate.

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With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?

OmniVis realizes that it takes the effort of private enterprise, non-profit, and academia to achieve successful results on a complicated problem. Therefore, we collaborate with a number of organizations to move toward sustainable solutions. Our university partner, Purdue University, develops a lot of the laboratory science behind OmniVis. Notre Dame University is performing our first user-centered design pilot and scientific field testing in Dhaka, Bangladesh alongside icddr,b. Médecins sans Frontières, Emerging Pathogens Institute, and Code for Africa provided us with feedback on device improvement and have a standing offer to pilot the device as well. Halcyon Incubator and Project Entrepreneur provided us with business skills.

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Your business model & funding

What is your business model?

OmniVis focuses on sales to humanitarian aid organizations (Médecins Sans Frontières) and water testing laboratories in emerging markets (Emerging Pathogens Institute) who are currently spending $1.6B using week-long laboratory tests or clinical tests for stool samples. OmniVis is 1/10th the cost per test, 240x faster than current laboratory tests, and takes <1 hour of training time.

OmniVis will leverage weaknesses in the existing water testing market. Revenue streams include initial hardware investments ($1000 per user) and recurring revenue of single-use disposable test kits ($10 each). Due to the low initial costs, the expected volume of mobile testing, the quality of our product and interdependence of hardware and testing kits, we expect a high level of volume and long-term customer loyalty.

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What is your path to financial sustainability?

OmniVis currently brings in money through non-dilutive grants. We wish to sustain ourselves through grant funding, however we understand the long turnaround times may not be conducive to rapid progress at OmniVis. Therefore, when we gather more pilot field data with our device, we are also considering seeking angel investment, raising $1.25M in our seed round. We plan, longer term, to start sales of our devices in Spring 2020. OmniVis will target its direct sales to NGOs and governmental organizations, with the combined hardware and phone as a single sale and disposable test kits as recurring revenue. 

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Partnership potential

Why are you applying to Solve?

OmniVis enjoys networking and collaborating with individuals and organizations in the social impact community. Solve would provide the opportunity for mentorship in a unique area that synthesizes social impact with leadership, whether it be from working with the assigned mentors or previous Solve alumni. Solve is incredibly unique as it combines social impact with entrepreneurship in the form of global challenges to provide young leaders with the opportunity to thrive and grow, which is what I have been searching for in my journey within social entrepreneurship.

 

Being a young entrepreneur with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Solve would allow me access to the people and tools that I have started to have exposure to, but could be fundamental in the long-term success of OmniVis. I am incredibly passionate and devoted in providing appropriate technologies in healthcare to global communities. Seeing for myself the complex issues that arise in emerging markets in the healthcare and water space, I believe the Solve would provide incredible insight, whether through mentorship, connecting with investors, or getting exposure. 

 

With my unwavering drive to bring accessible medical care to a global community, uniting with the Solve would accelerate this. I have personally met a Solve participant, Sona Shah with Neopenda, and was impressed by her confidence to navigate the social impact and global health space and remain a strong leader with her venture. Her crediting of Solve and her experiences are in line with everything that I think would help OmniVis become successful as well.

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What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?

  • Business model
  • Distribution
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Media and speaking opportunities
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If you selected Other, please explain here.

Entrepreneurial connections - meeting other participants at Solve will initiate conversations around opportunities and an entrepreneurial network of likeminded individuals to connect with. Community is important for these kinds of opportunities, and have seen the opportunities it has created for collaboration and friendship from other events, like Project Entrepreneur, Gifted Citizen, or Halcyon (a social impact incubator).

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With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?

OmniVis would like to partner with NGOs who work in vulnerable communities focusing on global health and water and sanitation. Some of these organizations would include UNICEF, Save the Children, the World Health Organization (particularly their Global Task Force on Cholera Control), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OmniVis would like to partner with these organizations by (1) looking for funding mechanisms to build our prototype into a more robust system, (2) work together on a user-centered design solution, where we can go to communities and discuss how to make the device fit better into user workflows, and (3) work on distribution channels and logistics to deploy our devices. We believe that through these three mechanisms we can accelerate our solution.

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If you would like to apply for the AI Innovations Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution. If you are not already using AI in your solution, explain why it is necessary for your solution to be successful and how you plan to incorporate it.

N/A

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If you would like to apply for the Innovating Together for Healthy Cities Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.

The Innovating Together for Healthy Cities Prize reflects the efforts that OmniVis is working toward with cholera detection and prevention. In our first pilot, OmniVis worked in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, to collect water samples to detect for cholera. Cholera is often found in overcrowded slums and cities due to failure in water infrastructure. We use our data component to inform local governments and NGOs on cleaning the water and helping the community before the disease becomes widespread.

We would utilize the the Together for Healthy Cities Prize to create a community-based education campaign to work alongside our device. To create social and behavioral, technology alone is not enough. Education about cholera, clean water, and treatment would inspire real change in these communities and build trust between local citizens and OmniVis. As we already do with our device design, we would co-create an educational campaign with our partners and local communities to most effectively talk about cholera and clean water. We would start with working in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and expand our campaign from there.

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If you would like to apply for the Everytown for Gun Safety Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.

N/A

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If you would like to apply for the Innovation for Women Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.

N/A

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If you would like to apply for the Innospark Ventures Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution. If your solution utilizes data, describe how you will ensure that the data is sourced, maintained, and used ethically and responsibly.

N/A

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If you would like to apply for the UN Women She Innovates Prize for Gender-Responsive Innovation, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.

OmniVis is fully aware of the amplification of gender inequalities in cholera-stricken regions. Women are often burdened with the tasks of cleaning water and taking care of sick family members. This is why we believe a water monitoring device for cholera detection would empower women in these communities. Lowering disease burden enables women more time to enter the workforce and reduce gender inequality. 


Therefore, OmniVis wants to apply for the UN Women She Innovates Prize for Gender-Responsive Innovation. We want to partner with UNICEF’s GBV to support women focused initiatives through cholera elimination efforts and apply these with our partnerships in Haiti and Bangladesh. By winning the UN Women She Innovates Prize, we could have the monetary means to create enough devices, education opportunities, traveling to communities abroad, and reach out to, hopefully, partner with UNICEF's GBV to make an effective strategy to empower women through proactive disease detection. This prize, being from the UN, would provide the clout needed to connect with UNICEF for this partnership.

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Solution Team

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