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Back in 1877, Julius Richard Petri was inventing the Petri plate, a transparent lidded dish that today is still widely used by biologists for cell cultures. Through a Petri dish it is possible to estimate any cell growth, from bacteria to fungi. A revolutionary discovery, if we think that the research and development of vaccines and antibiotics largely rely on this technique (and given the current circumstances, we know we have catched your attention!). Nevertheless, Petri dishes are also utilized by food tech companies, especially for contamination assessments and quality control purposes. 

Problem Statement: Since 1877, a lot has changed. Quality requirements and safety standards have been enforced, yet the current Quality Control (QC) methods still involve the use of Petri dishes which is often time consuming.

Scope for Innovation: A standard QC test needs from 3 to 7 days to be completed. Considering how the growth in population has resulted in an increased demand for products such as medicines or food, it is vital to provide reliable yet fast analytical methods to speed up the quality control tests. 

Our Solution of the Week is provided by Conelum. They developed a unique approach to combine a medium, molecular biochemistry and artificial intelligence to analyse a cell-containing sample. A special scanner collects terabytes of data which are analysed and translated to a 3D model of the cultured cells, making it possible to estimate dead or contaminated cells in less than 3 hours. This not only contributes in speeding quality control tests but also in saving money by reducing risk of recalls, saving reputation, and minimizing the chance of negative events.

The Conelum LLC company was founded in September 2012 as a spin-off from RTU (Riga Technical University) in Latvia. The company developed Elokit, an extremely promising tool for detection of any kind of microorganisms. Their area of interest mainly spans in food tech, therefore we hope to see them succeeding in the challenge to bring lab grown meat from idea… to supermarkets.