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Disruptive portable device for pre-screening of Persistent Organic Pollutants –POPs- in food products and water

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NanoScreen (Disruptive portable device for pre-screening of Persistent Organic Pollutants –POPs- in food products and water)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds produced by human action and present resistance to environmental degradation. Bioaccumulative capacity and toxicity of POPs can cause harmful effects which include damage in the reproductive health or even cancer. Indeed, their effects on the public health cost is around 100 billion €/per year only in Europe. Hence, they have become global threats for human society and environment. The most extended analytic methods used nowadays for detecting POPs/pesticides are gas/liquid chromatography and/or mass spectroscopy (GC/HPLC-MS). These methods are expensive -1,000 €/sample, time-consuming -24 h, require a laborious sample preparation and a well-equipped laboratory. Consequently, there is a great demand to increase the number of water and food quality tests if available for a lower price and shorter time.
SAFTRA photonics brings to the market PickMolTM nanotechnology for screening purpose. This technology detects if water or any food matrix is contaminated with POPs/pesticides/drugs. We offer a rapid method (10 minutes) to detect presence of the most POPs/pesticides/drugs in water/milk/beverages, carrying out an in-situ analysis for less than 40€ per sample and with the same sensitivity (ppb level) as reached by certified methods (i.e. GC-MS). The patented PickMolTM technology was recently validated by certified laboratory and can be tailored for any organic molecule, which means its large potential for application also in other fields like pharmaceutical & chemical industry, security and sport (doping control).
PickMolTM technology is:
Sensitive (ppb concentration level)
Selective (target a molecule)
Efficient (saving up to 90% of costs)
Fast (10 minutes for analysis)
Instant (analysis on the spot)
With the PickMolTM technology the people will be safer and healthier in their daily lives as the precise quality control of water/milk/food can be performed continuously in more sites. Therefore, the PickMolTM technology can significantly affects human life.
"The main objective of the NanoScreen project was to bring to market a portable technique based on nano-optical sensing chip for in-situ monitoring and simultaneous detection (multiplexing) of the most harmful organic compounds used in EU. The most important features we wanted to employ in technology are: applicability in diverse liquid matrices water/milk/food, an inexpensive price, instant detection response, and easy use compared to current methods.
The working protocol has involved the adaptation of the main topics in Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), such as the Plasmon Technology and Hot Spots, to the building of feasible sensing chips to be highly sensitive and selective for the detection of various organic targets (POPs/pesticides/drugs/toxins).
The patented PickMolTM sensing chip (PCT/IB2018/060065) pertains to the structure of a portable nano-optical chip based on the principle of generating of plasmons and the modification of a plasmonic nanoparticle surface. The nano-optical chip detects very low concentrations (ppb level) of POPs/pesticides/drugs/toxins in the environment (water and milk) even in multiplexing mode (more than one molecule simultaneously). To assure a high level of reproducibility of measurements, other components of the PickMolTM technology were developed: PickMolTM RAMASCOPE (tailored detection system), PickMolTM App/sw (software) and PickMolTM database (database of recently detected molecules). The “PickMolTM technology” was recently validated in a certified laboratory (RECETOX, Brno, Czech Republic).

Exploitation and Dissemination
The SAFTRA photonics exhibited PickMolTM technology on different industrial exhibitions (Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Philadelphia). We have offered hands-on presentation of the ultra-fast and high-sensitive PickMolTM screening of the water quality. The demonstration of our own detection system, PickMolTM RAMASCOPE and PickMolTM control & evaluation software, has been performed. Numerous face to face meetings with potential suppliers & distributors or next customers took place. With some of them we have established cooperation or communication with the aim to prepare business contracts.
With the ambition to make the pollution monitoring more affordable for developing countries and address the detection of various organic pollutants, SAFTRA photonics was honored to exhibit at the United Nations high-profile event in Geneva. The bi-annual meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions took place in May 2019. PickMolTM technology by SAFTRA photonics was as one of the three selected private providers to showcase their solutions in an information fair.

SAFTRA photonics prevailed in several technology competitions with the PickMolTM technology (Start-up awards 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia, Vodafone idea INVESTOR PRIZE, Prague, Czech Republic 2018, EIC Procter&Gamble Pitching Contest, Brussels 2018).
The website of the SAFTRA photonics ( is updated regularly with an exception of the relevant confidential documents. With a development of completely new line of products covered by „PickMolTM technology“, we have registered a new domain for our product
Intensive contacts have been started with various investors. We can conclude that SAFTRA photonics has already entered the monitoring analysis market!"
Clear progress beyond the state of the art has been achieved by the completion of the full set of the PickMolTM technology products: PickMolTM sensing chip, PickMolTM RAMASCOPE, PickMolTM App/sw and PickMolTM database. Therefore, the PickMolTM technology represents breakthrough solutions for rapid, sensitive, cheap and on the spot analysis of water/milk/food samples. Replication potential of the PickMolTM technology in different other field (chemical and pharmaceutical industry, security, sport) is large.
In the period of the NanoScreen project implementation, we have realized that there is a missing legislative obligation concerning the POPs monitoring in many countries. Thus, from the commercial point of view, POPs detection is not yet the best scenario for company development. With regards to this reality, we had to modify our priorities. The priority has moved to other molecules interesting for our customers (trace quantities of drugs in water, different other pesticides, dioxins), but without changes of the main project goals which were respected and did not change.
Socio-economic impact: Beyond the business impact, PickMolTM technology exploitation represents a clear and important societal value. PickMolTM technology has a strong potential for: i) increasing food safety by reducing time and cost in existing labs, so more items can be controlled (on-going), ii) opening new improvement potential to food safety control by rapid in-situ/online screening method (on-going), iii) improving EU’s high-tech competitiveness by offering innovative solutions to worldwide analytical industry /and/or others industries (on-going), iv) creating high-added value jobs in a technology company in Eastern Europe region (completed and on-going).
PickMol technology