Simon Jackson

A rapid water testing kit developed by a University of Plymouth spinout company is being rolled out commercially in the UK and Ireland.

The SirenBW system developed by Molendotech, established to commercialise the work of Professor Simon Jackson, can dramatically reduce the length of time it takes for local authorities and environmental agencies to assess the quality of recreational water.

Currently, it can take at least two days because samples must be sent to a laboratory for culture of organisms. SirenBW can be used on location by moderately-skilled technicians and can produce a result in 20 minutes. 

The commercial roll out is being carried out by Palintest, a subsidiary of FTSE 100 group Halma plc, and will initially focus on the UK and Ireland and include the establishment of a number of demonstrator sites. It follows a successful technical evaluation and demonstration during the 2018 bathing water season.

The technical demonstration programme has also begun at several iconic Australian locations to accelerate the global roll out of the SirenBW during the southern hemisphere summer.

Professor Simon Jackson, Honorary Professor at the University of Plymouth, said:

“It is a great achievement for the applications of our research to be commercialised. The first bathing water testing kit launched by Palintest will allow a rapid assessment of bathing water quality. Molendotech researchers are working on further developments of the assay that will have many applications in a range of settings and benefit both industry and the public.”

One of the SirenBW test kits in use
One of the SirenBW kits during tests on a bathing beach

The additional applications being developed with Palintest are designed to leverage the real-time availability of pathogen risk in water.

Molendotech is also working with other commercial partners in food and beverage production, developing methods for detecting pathogens on fresh produce and in the water used to irrigate it.

Palintest open innovation product manager Ian Leahy said:

“It sounds strange to be discussing bathing water quality in the middle of a British winter but the fact is that people want to enjoy safe and high quality bathing water all year round – even on Boxing Day! By combining Palintest’s core competence of simplifying water safety validation with Molendotech’s technology we can finally deliver a screening tool that matches the behaviour of recreational water users.”

The connection between Molendotech and Palintest was brokered the University’s commercialisation partner Frontier IP, which holds a 14.1 per cent stake in Molendotech.

Frontier IP Group chief executive officer Neil Crabb said:

“We’re delighted with the rapid progress the agreement with Palintest is making. It has taken less than 18 months from when Molendotech was first incorporated to the full commercial roll out of the first product based on its novel intellectual property. We are confident the company will continue to make strong progress.”

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