London lab getting $2M to boost production of COVID detector

The Kontrol BioCloud air monitoring device. Image from the Government of Ontario.

A London-based lab is getting a $2-million boost from the provincial government to ramp up production of a device that tests the air for traces of COVID-19.

Minister of Economic Development, Job Rreation and Trade Vic Fedeli announced the funding on Thursday for CEM Specialties Inc. The company, located on Dearness Drive, is a subsidiary of Kontrol Technologies and was instrumental in the development of the Kontrol BioCloud – a device that can detect airborne traces of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

“It’s the creativity and ingenuity of enterprising companies like CEMSI, with its innovative COVID-19 detection technology, that will help Ontario and the rest of the world successfully emerge from this pandemic, while creating hundreds of good jobs for our province’s skilled workers,” said Fedeli.

The money from the province will be used to increase production capacity of the London manufactured BioCloud to 20,000 units per month. The company is expected to hire approximately 250 more workers to handle the accelerated production. Another 750 indirect jobs will also be created as a result, according to Fedeli.

The BioCloud is designed for spaces up to 225 cubic metres and continuously monitors air quality and samples for pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. If a virus, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is detected the device sends an alert to the official in charge of the space.

The company hopes the BioCloud will be widely used in schools, offices, long-term care homes, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and on public transit.

“Our CEMSI team has been focused on developing a solution to create safer spaces through the real-time monitoring of SARS-CoV-2,” Paul Ghezzi, CEO of Kontrol Technologies Corp, said in a statement. “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.”

More than 85 per cent of the components used to craft the BioCloud are made in Ontario. As such, the funding was made available through the province’s Ontario Together Fund which invests in made-in-Ontario products and personal protective equipment to aid in the fight against COVID-19.