GRAND FORKS – SafetySpect, a Grand Forks company, received $480,000 from the North Dakota Development Fund in the fourth quarter of 2021 to support the commercialization of its new device – the CSI-D+.
CSI-D+ stands for Contamination and Sanitization Inspection and Disinfection Plus, which is a system designed to detect, disinfect and document contaminants, as well as saliva and respiratory droplets without using chemicals. The system is an upgrade of the CSI-D, which is not equipped to detect saliva or respiratory droplets.
SafetySpect opened its offices at the UND Center for Innovation in August 2020 and is in the process of moving its headquarters from California to Grand Forks. Barton and the company’s technical director, Dr. Fartash Vasefi, are currently buying homes in the area.
The company’s president and CEO, Kenneth Barton, said the prize money was used to cover operations, including software development. He also noted that any money the company has received from North Dakota is also meant to be spent there.
A portion of these funds will also be used to expand SafetySpect’s roster with the addition of four additional employees.
“Our goal is to hire by the end of next year, we should have at least 17 to 20 people here in Grand Forks,” Barton said. “That’s our goal. We are well advanced. We’re going to have to rent another office at the (UND Center for Innovation) because we’re growing up. We are growing a lot here.
Barton, CFO Tom Burke and Vasefi founded the company in 2016. CSI-D+ uses sensitive cameras to check what contaminants are present on a surface and neutralize them.
“What we do is we use light, or spectra of light, to basically shine on the objects of interest, they’re absorbed and reflected at the molecular level and we end up basically looking for unique ways to absorption and reflection,” Barton said.
The technology was first developed by the US military and the USDA. SafetySpect now markets it for a variety of uses, including the foodservice, medical, and hospitality industries.
“With restaurants, what we do is we walk in, we have an app… We go into the freezer, (we) scan it, if we see an organic product, we fix it,” Barton said. . “Enter the walk-in fridge – same thing. The stove, the shelves, the cutting boards, whatever. So in 15-20 minutes we scanned the whole restaurant.
Barton said one of the company’s goals is to get restaurant chains to use the technology across all of their locations.
“We think if they use our service, there’s no more punitive damages because they don’t neglect cleanliness, which would be a big deal for the chain restaurant industry,” Barton said. .
The company is currently working with Edgewood Healthcare in customizing the device’s software to scan the kitchens and bedrooms of its assisted living facilities.
“We get a lot of immunocompromised older people that you don’t want to get sick, either with food poisoning or the flu or whatever,” Barton said.
Barton met Edgewood CEO Phil Gisi at various meetings at the Economic Development Corporation and UND. Gisi found out that Barton was moving his business to the Grand Forks area and had an office based on cleanliness there, so talks started from there.
Gisi said the product would primarily be used to perform occasional cleanliness checks at Edgewood’s facilities.
“We found that we wouldn’t necessarily use every day, but what we do, and what many senior housing companies do, they do audits of this facility,” Gisi said. “So we’ll come in, we’ll do the surprise audits in one of our buildings, for example, and then you can use his product to test how well we clean the surfaces and then document whether or not we’re getting any what we need.
So, does improved cleanliness with CSI-D+ help Edgewood keep COVID-19 out of its facilities?
“I think so,” Gisi said. “No. 1, it just makes our staff aware of the quality of their cleaning work. So, of course, it has an impact on COVID. It has an impact on any type of contaminant that might be there.”
When asked if the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the design of the new CSI-D+ system, Barton said she pitched it, but it wasn’t really about the pandemic.
“It’s about how clean the cleanliness is,” Barton said.