Nate Cira (PhD, Bioengineering), Morgan Paull (PhD, Bioengineering), Jason Khoo (BS, Human Biology), Dr. Adam White, Prof. Steve Quake (Bioengineering)
Mendo produces handheld devices capable of automatically running nucleic acid amplification tests at a lower cost and power consumption without the need for a laboratory or a skilled technician. This is made possible by a novel microfluidic valve that is electronically activated. Currently, an estimated 40% of food is wasted at numerous points along the production-to-consumption cycle, and the global food cycle is responsible for consuming almost 30% of all generated electricity. Mendo's technology reduces the need for unwieldy equipment to handle and test fluids, allowing a pocket-sized, battery-powered device to be used in the detection of food-spoilage microbes. Their device provides better prediction of shelf life for perishable foods through molecular, nucleic-acid-based tests, reducing food waste along with energy-consumption levels in our food systems. By designing their tester for easy integration into the workflows of modern food-processing plants, Mendo's technology promises rapid, scalable improvements in the efficiency and timeliness with which agricultural producers and vendors route food to profitable uses before spoilage occurs.