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Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-02-29

Decontamination is the process of purposively removal of dangerous contaminants from people, equipment, and the environment (indoor and/or outdoor). It involves a combination of physical and chemical procedures that are used to remove the soiling and inactivate/destroy the target CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear) or Hazmat (Hazard Material) agent.
At the moment technological solutions to the problem of having mild and non-corrosive decontamination systems for equipment, casualties and large areas exposed to CBRN agents, in particular for Chemical Warfare Agents (CWA), are not available. Among the arsenal of CWA, nerve agents have played a dominant role since World War II and because of their simple chemistry and inexpensive raw materials for manufacturing, today they are still used as low-cost agents in terror acts, as recent events in Middle Est demonstrated.
Detoxizymes srls is a biotech start-up that aims at providing a biotechnological solution, based on stable biocatalysts, to the problem of CWA threat, namely the sensing, identification and the detoxification/decontamination of nerve agents from public areas, people and critical infrastructures subsequent to an aggressive deliberate act.
We have successfully tested our technology on small scale and we intend to continue with research and development activities in order to confirm the efficacy of the system on large scale. We believe that our system, opportunely optimized, will represent the all-inclusive solution that governments and institutions have been actively searching for years.
In the INNOPROCITI project the main objective has been the setup of a feasibility plan to have an idea of the market, its growing forecast, the barriers to the entry and to quantitate through a real business plan the economic needs to bring a product on the market within a three-five years timeframe.
The work performed in the six months period of the project can be summarised as the following points:
- Work of the project coordinator to assign tasks to the collaborators for the different aspects of the project and periodic meetings to assess the status of the project.
- Work of the company collaborators on the Feasibility Plan.
- Work of the company collaborators and selected consultants for the realization of the different parts of the feasibility plan.
- Work to discuss and realise the acquisition of a patent to the Company.
- Work in collaboration with Detoxizymes partners CNR and Tecnobios to make some tests in the simulator shown in the attached Figure.

The main result of this 6 month project has been the realization of a feasibility plan including a complete business plan. The first part of the plan about the market, the product, the freedom to operate etc. has been done with the help of Campania Biosciences District, a consortium of many public and private research and industrial bodies which aims at supporting internationalization, technology transfer, networking and diffusion of local entities.
The second part concerning a true business plan has been performed in collaboration with two skilled consultants.
Another important result has been the acquisition to the company of a patent. The process of formalization of this acquisition is ongoing.
In the feasibility plan we have analysed the market by acquiring a specific report realised by ASD Media BV. According to the report and our further searches on the Web and with the contribution of our coach and collaborators, we have concluded that the market that we would like to cover is a new market. In fact at present no integrated system consisting of a biosensor and an actuator both based on stable enzymes is available. The idea to use enzymes to detect and decontaminate nerve gases is not new but it has always been focused on mesophilic enzymes like Pseudomonas diminuta PTE or Torpedo californica DFPase or human paraoxonases. In 2005 Dott. Manco's group reported about thermostable paraoxonases from Sulfolobus species for the first time. Two years before he filed a first patent on the subject. After more than 10 years no one has yet realised this original idea. The motif is partly due to the low activity of Sulfolobus enzymes and similar enzymes from other sources requiring more focused industrial research. In addition, the production costs are a problem. Fortunately in the last three years Dott. Manco coordinated a big project financed from Italian Ministry of Research (MIUR).This project allowed making a huge progress in the field and Detoxizymes was born as a spin-off of this project, although the idea to create a company was actually older. The success of Detoxizymes not only at the European level but in other previous Italian and International competitions confirms the validity of the idea.
The feasibility study, developed as SME Instrument phase 1 outcome, gave us the chance to better underline some key points crucial to be targeted for a successful exploitation of our innovative idea, as follows:
- the business idea is well positioned for allowing INNOPROCITI to proceed with Phase 2 in the coming months.
- From a financial point of view: the establishment of serious partnerships with other industrial players is crucial for the success of the bid. We're currently developing strategic partnerships with two big companies who envisage the usage of the technology once the growth plan will be clearly exposed. Furthermore, the companies would be interested in taking part actively in the implementation of Phase 2. Their letters expressing the concrete interest in joining prototyping and scaling up activities will be enclosed while submitting the proposal for the Phase 2.
- Moreover, the analysis emphasizes the fact that research and development activities must by carry on further to optimize the system, to lower the costs and to boost the market uptake of a product that is completely innovative.
- IP protection is crucial to guarantee a successfully exploitation in the forthcoming steps and this will be another point actively pursued.
As concerning the social impact the product that we envisage is important not only for citizens and sensitive infrastructure security but also for the environmental protection in the long run.
Apart from the importance of making the public infrastructures more secure for citizens in Europe against the danger of terroristic acts, there are also other positive outcomes relating to the destruction of stocks of obsolete pesticides that are a menace for non-developed countries, as well as the possibility to use decon formulations in house for the treatment of contaminated fruit and vegetables.
Box simulator for decontamination tests after nebulization of chemical compounds