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Ontario announces $2M for ‘game changer’ airborne COVID-19 detector

A mockup image shows a BioCloud device in an office setting testing for COVID-19 particles. Kontrol Energy Corp.

The province is providing $2 million towards an investment aimed at accelerating production and the commercialization of the made-in-Ontario Kontrol BioCloud real-time airborne COVID-19 detector.

The BioCloud monitors air quality and samples continuously for pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi — including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The province says when the device detects the presence of the virus, it provides provides an alert for the company using it, over the cloud or their local intranet.

Read more: A coronavirus ‘game changer’: Canadian company claims it can detect virus in the air

The provincial funding will complement funding from CEMSI, a London-based subsidiary of the Vaughan-headquartered Kontrol Technologies Corp., for a $4-million investment total.

Economic development minister Vic Fedeli says the device itself is not only made in Ontario, but more than 85 per cent of its components are also made in the province.

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“So not only will Kontrol BioCloud create 250 direct jobs in London, there will be 750 people throughout the supply chain that are making components for this,” Fedeli told Global News.

“They’re going to pump out 20,000 units a month. So this will allow them to really accelerate that scale-up of the production, just really leapfrog and get into manufacturing.”

Read more: Canada’s schools need better air ventilation. Amid coronavirus, it could save lives

Fedeli says BioCloud can be used wherever people gather — schools, offices, long-term care homes, hospitals, on public transit, or in manufacturing facilities.

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“It’s a really world-class innovation.”

The province says that CEMSI has received all necessary approvals to commercialize and produce the BioCloud in London, however, it’s not yet clear how long it will take before devices are shipped out.

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“Obviously, the company will begin to negotiate with all organizations across Ontario, including manufacturers. There’s no commitment to procure from this. That’s their job now, to go out and sell,” Fedeli explained.

“Our role is to help them in the manufacturing side.”

Read more: Ottawa investing $7.2M to expand London’s agri-food sector, create 550 jobs

In a statement, Kontrol Technologies Corp. CEO Paul Ghezzi thanked the province for its support.

“Just as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are now part of building safety, we have created BioCloud as an innovative viral detection technology to help get the economy and daily life back closer to normal,” Ghezzi said.

The provincial funding comes through the $50-million Ontario Together Fund, created in hopes of delivering targeted investments to increase the province’s stockpile of made-in-Ontario products and personal protective equipment.

Kontrol previously received $50,000 in federal funding from the National Research Council of Canada to support its research. Testing on the device was overseen by David Heinrichs, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Western University.

Click to play video 'Canadian technology claims to detect coronavirus in air' Canadian technology claims to detect coronavirus in air
Canadian technology claims to detect coronavirus in air – Sep 29, 2020

–With files from Global News’ Jeff Semple

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