14 Conference Report #techonomy14

180° Shift: The Bright Future of Illumination

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  • Colleen Costello

Speaker

Colleen Costello
CEO and Co-founder, Vital Vio


Costello: Good morning. I’m Colleen Costello, CEO and co-founder of Vital Vio. I first got into clinical research when my brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was a teenager. I then first got into healthcare entrepreneurship while I was getting my degree in biomedical engineering and witnessed my grandmother contract a MRSA infection while she was receiving care within a hospital. This shed light on what is the number one patient killer in the United States: hospital acquired infections. These hospital-acquired infections kill more people in this country than breast cancer, car crashes, and AIDS combined every single year. Simply put, this is when someone enters a healthcare facility and ends up more sick than they were when they entered. Situationally, the main cause behind this is contamination within the environment in air and on surfaces and then people interacting with that environment and transmitting germs throughout the facility.

Two driving forces behind this dilemma that we face are, the first one being the speed and ease at which these germs can travel throughout a healthcare facility and their ever-evolving resistance due to things like overuse of antibiotics, which the World Health Organization has cited on par with climate change. The second one being a limited amount of tools that we have within our arsenal to defend from these germs. Current cleaning solutions are intermittent and in most cases harmful to be used around people. These cleaning solutions are not adequately addressing the problems that we currently face.

So what do we do? We have to think about this infection in a new way. Through the advent and commercialization of LEDs, which is a new way to generate frequencies of light, as well as advancements in embedded hardware and software, Vital Vio currently provides continuous and safe solutions to subdue the growth and transmission of germs in places like healthcare facilities. Never before have we had such combination of technologies that can allow us to be so lethal to germs but be harmless to people. One might assume that we use conventional ultraviolet light, but through our new LED systems, we can actually generate a unique spectrum of white light that’s targeting receptors that are in germs that are not in people. These systems implement just like any standard lighting technologies. Any standard electrician can install these within a ceiling.

Now, healthcare institutions are not the only facilities that are at risk for contamination. However, bacteria are a crucial part of our existence and should be embraced in the majority of environments, but when we have 60 people killed from contamination in a compound pharmacy, 600 people infected with salmonella in a given year from one particular chicken processing facility, we can recognize the places like restaurants, cleanrooms, locker rooms can benefit from a continuous clean. And that’s our current goal at Vital Vio is to be able to protect these types of environments with our currently commercially available product.

There are rapid advancements in a variety of different technologies spaces. We can actually now—our revolutionary lighting systems actually are able to not have to worry about human factors or any consideration for how often you can be able to clean a healthcare facility. They’re only limited by where you currently have your lighting, and we’re here to replace it with something more functional and change the way you think about clean. Thank you.

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