The London startup behind a device capable of detecting and monitoring the spread of infectious diseases in sewage has secured £1.1 million.

Untap says its wastewater surveillance system provides real-time data on community health. It will use the funding – which includes £100k from British Design Fund and also features specialist funds and angel investors – to bring its device to market.

Untap’s patent pending, automated and real-time wastewater surveillance system can detect viruses including COVID-19 to monitor community prevalence and identify case rates without the need for individual testing. 

The technology is able to detect a single infected person amongst 10,000 that are healthy and can monitor a whole community for diseases using one test while ensuring 100% participation.

The startup was co-founded by Imperial College London alumni Dr Claire Trant and Dr Jay Bullen.

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“Wastewater surveillance monitors health on a community-scale, non-invasively,” said Dr Trant. “However, up until now those services have been manual and therefore slow and expensive. We knew there was a need for an automated solution, which we’re building at Untap.

“We are already seeing an increase in pandemics and the more we live in densely populated environments, the more we are likely to see them happening. Through the work we are doing we hope to help health agencies prepare and act at speed to address these outbreaks.”

Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Untap to the BDF portfolio. Monitoring viral outbreaks through individual testing is expensive, time consuming and invasive. 

“Untap offers a solution with technology that has huge potential to help monitor and tackle transmissible diseases across the world. Our investee committee were not only impressed by the calibre of the Untap team but also the potential of their technology to impact on global communities.”

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