Side view of empty hospital bed

Democratizing Access to Hospital-Grade Disinfection

A version of this post originally appeared on Outcomes Rocket’s blog, following an interview with R-Zero’s President and Co-founder, Eli Harris. We are sharing it here with permission from Outcomes Rocket.

Pre-pandemic, clean spaces were important.

Today, a clean space is not enough. Thanks to the increased attention to public health and safety due to COVID-19, shared spaces must be clean, and if possible, disinfected.  

What’s the difference? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from any surface. However, washing an area with soap and water removes germs from the surface, but it does not kill them. In contrast to cleaning, disinfecting kills germs on objects and surfaces, significantly reducing the risk of spreading infection. 

On June 15, 2021, the CDC updated its guidelines for buildings and community settings to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The guidelines stated that shared spaces, especially high-traffic areas, can increase the risk of infection if certain conditions are present, and should be more frequently cleaned and disinfected if needed.

With plenty of disinfectants available in the market, which one is the best for your business? 

How can you be sure of a disinfectant’s effectiveness? Chemical disinfectants are commonly used to kill certain pathogens, but they cannot kill them all.

When evaluating disinfectants, there’s also the issue of safety. Is the disinfectant safe to be used on surfaces? Will it be easy to apply? You must take all of these considerations into account to ensure that you choose the best disinfectant for your facilities. 

Fortunately, there is a disinfection method that addresses all health concerns and the need for safer spaces: uv-c light.

R-Zero provides safe and highly effective UV-C light disinfection technology that achieves 99.99% destruction of all surface and airborne pathogens in a 1,000 sq ft room in just 7 minutes.

A Deep Dive into Disinfection Technology

R-Zero is a biosafety technology company dedicated to providing hospital-grade disinfection solutions that render modern spaces safe and clean. 

Co-founded by Ben Boyer, Grant Morgan, and Eli Harris, R-Zero is one of the fastest rising companies in 2020, booking five million dollars in sales in its first three months in the market, despite the pandemic.

In his recent podcast interview with Outcomes Rocket host, Saul Marquez, Eli shared that Ben and Grant are his mentors whom he has known for about a decade. Ben is a venture capitalist and co-founder of Tenaya Capital, while Grant was a co-founding member of GIST and previously worked at Abbott designing medical devices.

Recalling the watershed moment of 9/11 (and how it had impacted and created new safety standards) led R-Zero’s co-founders to the idea that certain events create lasting societal and infrastructural change.

“Our thesis here was that this event of the pandemic was going to broaden that word ‘security’ to ‘biosecurity,’ to ‘biosafety,’ and in the standards that all organizations are going to uphold as they regard human health and the safety of their staff, and the patrons of their communities at large,” Eli shared.

That conversation led R-Zero’s co-founders to research the disinfection industry. In that exploration, they found Dr. Richard Wade, a public health expert specializing in disinfection. In turn, Dr. Wade led the group on a study of the best tools in infection prevention.

Re-engineering UV-C Light Technology

Under Dr. Wade’s guidance, the team started looking to hospitals to understand infection prevention. More specifically,  they looked at operating room environments. According to Eli, these spaces are the “gold standard” when it comes to infection prevention. 

“We started looking at hospitals thinking that ever since their advent, hospitals are a place where you actually encourage the sick to gather and you have to learn to control the spread of disease. And in a hospital, the highest-risk environment is the surgical environment. You have open, exposed bodies, and oftentimes, you’re dealing with many pathogens. So, Dr. Wade led us on a study to really understand what happens in the surgical theater, in operating rooms right now that is the gold standard for infection prevention,” explained Eli.

The co-founders honed in on three things hospitals do exceptionally well. First, hospitals practice of good hand hygiene. Second, they use of chemical wipes on high-touch, high-risk surfaces. Third, they employ large UV-C light towers for disinfection.

Researchers have known about UV-C’s germicidal properties for over a century, and hospitals have been using it for disinfection for decades. Several studies show that UV-C light can effectively reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and even inactivate SARS-CoV-2 when used in combination with the cleaning protocols of the hospital.

Initially, the R-Zero team wanted to set up a business installing UV-C light in non-healthcare settings. However, they pivoted when they found out that only a few manufacturers build the products while practicing “value extraction,” making UV-C light towers incredibly expensive.

With Eli’s background in battery and hardware manufacturing and Grant’s skills in medical device manufacturing, the company decided to build their own system. “So we looked at this…and we said fundamentally, this is a light on wheels with a timer. This is not rocket science. There’s no secret sauce, no IP.  The ability for UVC light to kill anything, any microorganism, virus, bacteria, mold, fungi, it’s purely a function of the amount of light that you emit and how long you run it for,” Eli said. 

After months of re-engineering and optimizing, R-Zero created their flagship device, Arc, the world’s first germicidal UV system designed for dynamic environments. 

The Arc destroys over 99.99% of pathogens, including human coronavirus, influenza, norovirus, and E. coli, in a 1000 square-foot room in 7 minutes. This modernized, mobile UV-C light tower is more cost-effective in annual disinfection labor costs versus electrostatic spraying. Arc is also environmentally friendly and even offers real-time data transmission so you can see who ran it, in what room, and at what time.

Though Arc was created to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the company’s vision is for this incredible UV-C light tower on wheels to be integrated into regular disinfection and cleaning protocols. Because UV-C light is harmful for the skin and eyes, R-Zero has over-engineered the safety features. If any motion is detected inside the room while the device is running, it will automatically turn off.

Increasing Safety in Modern Spaces

R-Zero’s Arc is a highly effective solution that can increase the environmental safety of modern spaces, but the company sees opportunities far beyond the pandemic. 

“Right now, folks are worried about COVID, but what we’re doing to prevent COVID is effective against any pathogen. For cruises, it’s norovirus. For schools, it is the common cold and seasonal flu. For sports teams, staph infections. And these are very costly,” Eli said. “I mean, schools are funded based on daily attendance. So if we can roll in solutions that actually prevent the spread of the common cold or seasonal flu, that’s going to result in increased attendance, which means more funding for the school. And by the way, attendance is directly correlated to performance. So making safer spaces could fundamentally change the education of American youth. So it’s pretty darn cool the impact we can actually have: a biosafety disinfection company could actually change the education system.”

With R-Zero’s Arc raising the standard of disinfection and enabling the safety of our schools, hotels, restaurants, and many other commercial spaces, we can expect more impact on our health and safety in the years to come. 

Listen to the full Outcome Rocket interview with Eli Harris at https://outcomesrocket.health/r-zero/2021/08/.

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