Solution overview

Our Solution

OmniVis

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Tagline

Power of the lab in the palm of your hand.

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Pitch us on your solution

Current cholera detection platforms for water testing are time intensive, costly, and imprecise, exacerbating wide scale disease outbreaks throughout the world. This disease causes approximately 3 million cases and wastes $2 billion annually in treatments and lost productivity that could be avoidable through early detection.  

OmniVis’ hardware device and disposable test kit attaches to a smartphone and reduces the water-based detection process from 3-5 days down to 30 minutes, more accurately and affordably than other solutions on the market.  OmniVis’ data gathering & reporting tools provide insights over disease hotspots; enabling earlier warning before wide scale outbreaks occur.

In Bangladesh, there are 100,000 cholera cases and 4,500 deaths annually. The International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), the first cholera research hospital in the world, developed some of the most innovative solutions for cholera. By rapidly detecting cholera, we can help communities before outbreaks occur, lowering cholera hospitalizations and deaths.

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What is the problem you are solving?

Cholera remains endemic in Bangladesh during the rainy spring and fall seasons. Bangladesh has 100,000 illnesses and 4,500 deaths due to cholera every single year. Cholera occurs due to the lack of water and sanitation in specific communities. To date, one approach to alleviate cholera burden in Bangladesh is with the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV). However, not every person can be reached and treated, leaving people vulnerable to the spread of cholera in both urban and rural areas of the country. 

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 due to the efforts 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. Proactive cholera detection can change humanitarian aid response, by knowing where and when to send resources. 

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Who are you serving?

The ecosystem around OmniVis consists of aid organizations, first responders, and communities affected by cholera. Our venture initially focuses on sales to water testing laboratories (icddr,b) and humanitarian aid organizations (Médecins Sans Frontières). They would use OmniVis to benefit community members in urban or rural regions of Bangladesh. Partners see value in OmniVis due to the few hours of training time needed to operate the device, high accuracy, and solution alignment. The rapid time toward detection and automated record keeping allow our partners to do their job swiftly while maintaining key performance indicators for their parent organizations.

OmniVis worked in Dhaka for 7-weeks with icddr,b. We integrate human-centered design into every aspect of our product. We worked with field workers who go into the communities in and around Dhaka, Matlab, and Cox's Bazar to test the water in urban and rural areas. 

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 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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Select only the most relevant.

  • Provide equitable and cost-effective access to services such as healthcare, education, and skills training to enable Bangladeshi society to adapt and thrive in an environment of changing technology and demands
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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Indianapolis, IN, USA
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In which sector would you categorize your solution?

  • Health
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If you selected Other, please explain here.

Environment + Health

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Our solution's stage of development:

Pilot
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More about your solution

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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Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?

OmniVis participated in the NSF I-Corps program, performing over 230 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 Bangladesh pilot, 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, and is particularly burdensome in endemic countries such as Bangladesh. A patient with cholera can die within hours if left untreated. It takes a 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 cholera, the device sends notifications to organizations to go to the area in need with doctors, chlorine tablets, or filters to stop the outbreak from spreading.

 

Due to the long process needed for cholera detection, laboratory costs are incredibly expensive. Each 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 partners who can respond immediately with doctors and water remediation tools.

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Select the key characteristics of the population in Bangladesh your solution serves.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Elderly
  • Rural Residents
  • Urban Residents
  • Very 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?

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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Select one.

  • My solution is already being implemented in Bangladesh
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If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in Bangladesh,” please provide an overview of your current activities in the region.

  • Performed a 7-week study with icddr,b in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the environmental microbiology testing lab and University of Notre Dame
  • Performed a user-centered design study with field workers from icddr,b assessing usability between education levels, languages, gender, and comfort level
  • Went to the field and collected 80 samples throughout Dhaka (and Ghazipur)
  • Going back to Bangladesh to work with icddr,b on October 19, 2019 to collect 40 more samples and work with the environmental microbiology testing lab
  • Plan to publish on the data together
  • Working on pipeline implementation plan with icddr,b and local hospitals in the region
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If you selected “I am planning to expand my solution to Bangladesh,” please provide an overview of your expansion plans. What is the market opportunity for your business or product in Bangladesh?

N/A

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About your team

Select an option below:

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 3 full-time, 3 part-time employees and 4 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 8 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 global health diagnostics with active collaborations in Ecuador, and Kenya and 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, our Head of Operations, brings her ability to maximize on limited resources and organize and prioritize operations for optimal efficiency. She worked on product development/marketing HTC Vive and operations at Girls Who Code and Kipp Schools. Her experience provides insight of paths to commercialization and efficiently operate.

Jordan Florian, our Global Health Engineer, worked in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 7-weeks performing field testing as a student. Now, as a full-time engineer he brings his experience for human-centered design to the company.

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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, developed a lot of the laboratory science behind OmniVis and continues to partner with us through several grants. Notre Dame University performed our first user-centered design pilot and scientific field testing in Dhaka, Bangladesh alongside icddr,b who is now an amicable partner of our organization. This October, we will be traveling back to Bangladesh to finish our studies. 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. Being MIT Solve winners and TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield runner-ups provides us with a diverse network to connect with tech and social entrepreneurs to further our company.

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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 (icddr,b and 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 the Tiger Challenge?

OmniVis started working in Bangladesh in May 2019 alongside icddr,b. We are committed to working with icddr,b and communities in and around Bangladesh because of our current experiences in the country. Bangladesh is seasonally endemic for cholera, with outbreaks occurring most often in the Spring and Fall, mirroring monsoon season. We want to work with the community that discovered cholera treatments (oral rehydration salts) and testing methods for cholera. We believe that by matching our strengths, we can work toward cholera elimination in Bangladesh and apply that model in other nations.

The Tiger IT Foundation and OmniVis visions align in that we understand there are multiple socioeconomic factors that lead to positive change in Bangladesh. Cholera is a disease that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations, the poor, children, women, elderly, and those undergoing humanitarian conflict. However, early detection and behavioral change with water can eliminate cholera cases drastically. With Tiger Challenge recognizing how innovative technical solutions can alter outcomes in Bangladesh, we find that this challenge is a great fit for both the foundation and OmniVis to further positive health and environmental outcomes.

With OmniVis's continued efforts toward distributing our technology in-country, we believe that partnering with the Tiger IT Foundation will provide us with in-country connections to stakeholders, organizations to partner and distribute our device with, expert knowledge on cholera detection and elimination efforts in the community, legal structure to operate in-country, and capital to implement our work beyond icddr,b.

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

  • Business Model
  • Distribution
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Legal
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Other
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If you selected Other, please explain here.

We would love more connections within Bangladesh (hospitals and universities) to hire employees in-country to take over OmniVis operations in Bangladesh full-time. We are committed to the communities we serve and believe that in-country employees will be incredibly invested and immersed and provide pertinent feedback and technological advances of our technology and moving toward cholera elimination. 

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

  • Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) - We would like to work with the students for internships, full-time hiring opportunities after university, research projects, and class projects.
  • Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research - We would like to work with the epidemiological center to see how we can partner with mapping and surveillance data for cholera to move toward cholera elimination strategies in Bangladesh. Further, the partnership can provide data on other factors that could contribute to cholera in the country.
  • UNICEF Bangladesh - UNICEF focuses on water projects throughout Bangladesh, in urban and rural areas as well as the Rohingya refugee area. We would like to partner with them to distribute our devices throughout the country for testing, use, and feedback for longterm partnership.
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Solution Team

 
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