The recent Ebola epidemic served as a wake-up call to the world that the dangers of infectious diseases are still very real, even in the 21st century. In addition to spreading quickly through communities, poor disinfectant techniques caused a rash of outbreaks among caregivers and healthcare workers, making an already bad situation even worse.
Then-Columbia students Jason Kang ’16SEAS, Katherine Jin ’16CC, and Kevin Tyan ’16CC came up with an innovative solution: During their junior year, the team participated in the Columbia Ebola Design Challenge where they created an early version of Highlight, which would eventually become one of the the core products of their soon-to-be launched company, Kinnos.
Highlight is a colored powder that can be added to common disinfectants like bleach. In addition to transforming what was a clear liquid into a now visible, blue one, the powder alters the composition of the liquid itself, making it easier to achieve full coverage. After a set period of time, the blue color fades away, serving as an indication that the area in question has been adequately decontaminated.
Kinnos officially launched back in December 2014 and went on to win $750,000 in grants. By late February 2017, the company had secured $1 million in its first round of funding.
Many people along their journey, at Columbia and beyond, knew that Kinnos was onto something big — the company has received widespread recognition and a number of awards. In addition to winning Columbia’s Ebola Design Challenge, it has also won the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge (1 of only 12 grantees out of over 2,000 applicants and the only undergraduate team to win), Columbia Venture Competition, VentureWell E-Team Grants, Collegiate Inventors Competition, and Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The Kinnos team was also named a U.S. Delegate for the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit and recognized by Forbes as part of its 2016 “30 Under 30” in the Healthcare designation.
If you’d like to learn more about this amazing company and its impact across the globe, visit the Kinnos website here.