WaterScope is developing a rapid, easy-to-use, affordable test for bacterial contamination. Their technology uses optics to identify bacterial contamination early and their novel cartridge makes testing extremely simple, not dependent on user skillset or resource availability.
Contaminated drinking water affects a tenth of the world’s population. Bacterial contamination is estimated to cause over 500,000 diarrhoeal related deaths globally each year: this is over 2,000 every day. Current testing systems are slow, expensive and complex; faster, simpler testing systems that can identify disease bacteria can help to prevent the spread of infection. Moreover, automatic data collection and upload allows for almost real-time mapping of water sources around the globe, and real-time intervention.
To date WaterScope have raised over £150,000 of non-dilutive funding and have been on their first field trial to one of the largest refugee camps in the modern world, with Oxfam as partners.
Summary of the technology
WaterScope’s core technology is the open-source flexure microscope stage developed by co-founder Richard Bowman. They have refined the microscope to allow incubation and detection of specific disease bacteria in the field.
Additionally, WaterScope have a novel cartridge to simplify bacterial collection, enabling a test to occur independently of resource availability or extensive user training.
Prizes, Funding, Competitions, Workshops
- University of Cambridge, Vice Chancellor’s Overall Impact Award
- Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship Award
- Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Social Enterprise Award
- Completed Maxwell Impulse Entrepreneurship Programme
- Downing Enterprise Competition
- Centre for Global Equality Dr Anji Reddy Award
- Try it Award
Dr Alexander Patto, CEO of WaterScope and Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow & Borysiewicz Biomedical fellow at University of Cambridge.
Dr Nalin Patel, who is the Winton programme manager and is responsible for project management and finance.
Dr Richard Bowman, Prize fellow and Royal Commission 1851 Research fellow at Bath University. Richard is responsible for optical design and 3D-printing iteration.
Sammy Mahdi, PhD student at the Institute of Manufacturing. Sammy is the engineering lead, responsible for prototyping and electronics.
Tianheng Zhao, PhD student in the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge. Tian is the software lead, responsible for web-design and software development.
Media coverage and news
- Winner of Social Enterprise category – Cambridge University Entrepreneurs
- Nominet Trust 100: 2016’s most inspiring examples of tech for good
- Humanitarian Innovation Fund
- 3D printing of the Open Flexure Microscope
- The cost-effectiveness of WaterScope
- Fast Company’s article on the flexibility of WaterScope in the field
- WaterScope on Cambridge TV
- Founders, Alexander Patto and Tianheng Zhao, interviewed by Cambridge TV
- Physics World article on bringing open source hardware to the developing world