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Rapid on-site detection of Mycotoxin in wheat

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MycoQuest (Rapid on-site detection of Mycotoxin in wheat)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-09-30

Dunagabona Ltd. is a family owned agricultural business, operating since 1991 and specializes in agricultural trading, especially wheat and corn. The main activity of the company is trading and distribution of agricultural products within Europe, mainly feeding and milling wheat, barley and maize.

The main objective of the company is to supply both local and foreign consumers, to perfectly follow up the demand and trends of its stakeholders and to offer clockwork-like corn trading-logistic services.
The company is also looking forward all the time to renew its certifications and also aims to get other certifications and labels approved by the EC, to ensure the quality of goods and services based on the even higher exact requirements of consumers. This objective is very well in accordance with one of the ultimate aim of our MycoQuest project: to achieve the SME Instrument EU label certification to our mycotoxin screening prototype to raise the awareness and acceptance of Dunagabona by achieving even more customers and to raise above the competition in the Central-European region.

The aim of the MycoQuest development is two sided: first, it will ensure the possibly fastest and cheapest way to determine the contamination of our traded products, which will lead to a higher product quality and other international labels for Dunagabona, which means plus added value and advantage on the market. On the other hand, our company can start scaling up the production of the device, which means a brand new revenue centre and the possibility to create a new, complex service system to satisfy our customers’ needs on a higher level and finding markets we could not reach before.

The development of this device has been initiated within the 7th Framework Programme in 2010, which was the first step, covering the first part of the evolution of this mycotoxin detection machine, bringing it from TRL1 to TRL6. This means, that our prototype has already being tested in relevant industrial environment at our premises and based on the first adequate results of the validation, we decided to start the fine tuning and upscaling of the prototype in the MycoQuest Phase 1 project to provide the attraction of the market and a better commercialisation potential.

We intend to complete MycoQuest and launch the final product on the expanding mycotoxin screening market in the shortest possible time. The objective of the current Phase 1 project was to demonstrate the economic and technological feasibility of MycoQuest and to prepare the ground for the last steps of the development agenda.

Based on the technical feasibility study and the updated business plan results it was concluded that MycoQuest has excellent potentials to succeed both in terms of economical and technical innovation, therefore the final development steps are considered worth to pursue within a Phase 2 project.
A market assessment was prepared both on global and EU level, concluding with a detailed competitor analyses to evaluate the state of the art of the mycotoxin screening market. Both the market assessment and projected sales confirmed the viability of the initial approach and the potential impact previously identified which was confirmed in the updated Business Plan. However, based on the further inspected customer needs, the risk assessment and other competitors in the non-technical feasibility study we considered the benefits of offering a cheaper, still trustful DON toxin screening device compared to the current solutions on the market (like ELISA or HPLC). According to the results - supported with a SWOT analyises - we are now looking forward to confirm and advance this approach and to conclude the Final Business Plan in the Phase 2 project.

According to the results of the technical feasibility study, we have gained valuable insights during the usability validation of our industrial MycoQuest prototype. These insights will guide us in the design and manufacture of our Final Prototype in the follow up project. As part of the feasibility study, the method applied for the conjugation of polystyrene microbeads has been tested with some modification for the sensitisation of
magnetic microbeads. Qualitative and functionailty tests were performed and the executed validation have shown that the antibody can be coated to the magnetic bead surface without significant functionality loss. Therefore the most important modification deemed necessary in the prototype design follows from the determination of a suitable procedure to test and prove the specific interaction between the sensitised magnetic microbead and labelled antigen. Preliminary steps have already been carried out to resolve this issue, but the further optimisation of the sensitised magnetic microbead and the HRP-labelled antigen interaction is highly dependent on the detection method, therefore it is considered as a part of the further development in the Phase 2 project, along with the bulk sample method validation and automatization / scale-up preparation.
As a main conclusion, MycoQuest will not only significantly reduce the costs associated with mycotoxin sampling, but more importantly, samples tested will be truly representative of the bulk storage lots, providing the European and worldwide cereal and corn sector with more reliable test results on which to base decisions on whether the sample is contaminated or not. Requiring only a one time investment, testing costs can be seriously reduced with MycoQuest.