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Jason Kang ‘16ENG, Katherine Jin ‘16CC, Kevin Tyan ‘16CC

Kinnos was founded in December 2014 by three Columbia undergraduates in response to the Ebola crisis. We discovered that thousands of people were being infected due to ineffective decontamination — current disinfectants like bleach lack the ability to fully cover surfaces and cannot be easily visualized. This is a problem that affects not only healthcare workers and patients in epidemics, but in everyday decontamination situations as well, ranging from hospitals to transportation agencies to military biodefense.

To address this problem and raise the standard of decontamination, we invented Highlight, a powdered additive that is mixed into disinfectants at point-of-use. Highlight colorizes the disinfectant so you never miss a spot, modifies the liquid properties so it fully covers and sticks to surfaces, and fades to clear over time to prevent staining and provide real-time visual feedback of when decontamination is complete.

Highlight is used by the Fire Department of New York in all HazMat operations, was a winner of the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, and has been field-tested by healthcare workers in Liberia. Kinnos has also been recognized as a winner of the Columbia Venture Competition, Collegiate Inventors Competition, Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Competition, VentureWell E-Team Grants, and was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare.

Currently, Highlight is being field-tested in Guinea with International Medical Corps and being considered for applications in a large New York hospital system. The Kinnos team is working to implement Highlight on a global scale.

Moving forward, Kinnos is seeking an advisory board and mentors with experience in disinfectants, chemical manufacturing, and global health. Kinnos is also interested in forming partnerships for pilot-testing Highlight in various decontamination applications. For more information, please visit