By Keenan Pinto, Founder and CEO, Nordetect
Bio-engineer turned inventor and now an entrepreneur in the bioscience and AgTech industry. He loves condensing complex biological and technological concepts and making them more accessible and actionable for broad audiences.
This is my story about how passionate people and open partnership innovation can lead to new radical collaborations and solutions.
Nordetect has come a long way since its inception in 2016. The journey of bringing deep tech innovations to life and then to market is no easy task, and definitely not something that can be done alone. Right from the start, we have been lucky to have found mentors and advisors who could shed light on the way forward. But support is sometimes hard to find, especially when you work in an interdisciplinary domain that requires various specializations.
This was evident as I talked with the team behind HelloScience a few weeks ago. As the meeting progressed, to our surprise, we found that the partners and supporters of Nordetect were coincidentally partners and supporters of HelloScience as well. So for those of you who didn’t know about it when it happened, we’ve highlighted them below.
Community Bio and Novozymes
Some of the first experiments that we conducted were at Labitat and Biologigaragen, a coworking lab based in Frederiksberg. There we had access to tools such as CNC machines, arduino’s, 3D-Printers, etc, but also had access to basic wet-lab equipment such as a spectrophotometer, micropipettes, microscopes, incubators,etc. The Biologigaragen initiative was supported by Novozymes in 2012 through a grant and equipment. Interestingly, I recently found out that it was a part of Alfred Birkegaards Ph.D ‘Collaboration – On the Edge of New Paradigme?’, which was done in conjunction with Novozymes.
Keenan Pinto testing Nordetect’s prototypes in Labitat/Biologigaragen
Gernot J Able working on Ethanol sensors for an open project with Biologigaragen
It was at this Community Lab, that I met with Gernot J. Abel (Scientist, Novozyme) and Christian Brix Tillegreen (BII, ex-Novozymes), allocated by Ejner Bech Jensen (VP in R&D, Novozymes), who were great connectors on the tech side and commercial side respectively. They also still advise us today as and when possible. Access to tools and equipment, as well as industry connections and mentorship allowed us to go from Idea to Prototype very quickly and then iterate.
Ejner Bech Jensen on Open Innovation
“In these kinds of environments new ways of thinking occur. Inspiration that is different than what we can create within our refined innovation environment.
We are a company that spends a lot of money on research. We spend over one billion Danish kroner a year in our labs. And still we must acknowledge that we have 1,200 scientists who run around. They are very skilled but they are very similar and often think alike, of course they are also individuals but it is still an environment that breeds a certain methodology of thinking.
That is why we want to be part of the experiment with Labitat.”
– Ejner Bech Jensen, VP, Novozymes
People from HelloScience on the Experiment
Interviews from Alfred Birkegaards Ph.D documentary
Across the pond in India, Nordetect’s founder Palak Sehgal was a researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and had applied for a research exchange to Denmark. She was selected for a grant from Novozymes and Henning-Holck Larsen Foundation that sponsored exchanges of students between Denmark and India. This brought her to DTU in Denmark where she was working in the Bioengineering department.
On the weekends, she would visit Biologigaragen and work on the chemistry and cartridge portion of Nordetect’s product. Her input allowed for a balanced development between the hardware/software and chemistry/cartridges.
Palak Sehgal prototyping the sensing polymers for Nordetect
Nordetect along with 7 other foodtech and cleantech companies on a delegation to India through NORDIN
Nordetect has had a strong connection to India through its founder and helping to optimize Indian agriculture was one of the motivating factors behind Nordetect’s founding. However, the Indian landscape is hard to navigate, especially when attempting to do it from the outside. This was where the NORDIN program was a big help. We built connections with stakeholders over a six month period through virtual meetings. It culminated with a trip to Bangalore and Mumbai where one of the companies that we met with was none other than…. Novozymes and their BioAg division. It was here where we got a better understanding of the synergies our product has with Novozymes’ focus in Agriculture.
As Nordetect progressed, the vision for a more sustainable way of farming became even more clear. The potential of Nordetect’s product to mitigate climate change by optimizing fertilizer consumption led the EIT Climate-KIC initiative to award a phase 1 grant from its Nordic Chapter. This allowed us to grow, conduct tests with users and refine our beachhead segment. After a year of hard work towards our milestones, Nordetect was awarded the Phase 2 grant from Climate KIC in Q1 2020.
Nordetect granted the EIT Climate KIC grant
along with 10 other climate impact startups
Back at Novozymes with HelloScience
Which brings us to today, where we are back at Novozymes and proud to present our product and explore how we can collaborate on a new level. From Agricultural microbials, to wastewater treatment, to animal feed, there are multiple paths forward. With the support from HelloScience and the team at Novozymes, we’re confident that the collaborative spirit could lead to something great. The best part is, you can follow the journey on our HelloScience timeline.
Thanks for spending the time to get to know us better. You can reach out through HelloScience to Nordetect and find the way rapid chemical testing can advance your business and research needs.
“We at Novozymes looking forward to explore new collaborative opportunities with Keenan and Nordetect”
– Anuj Dhariwal, Director, Global Head of Scouting and Venturing, Novozymes