A social impact start-up based at the University of Cambridge has been able to integrate an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor into a digital bacterial testing kit for drinking water systems – allowing for automatic uploading of data from anywhere in the world – thanks to funding from Connecting Cambridgeshire’s Digital Technology Grants for Business scheme.

WaterScope already had a working prototype of a rapid yet simple, digital bacterial-testing kit for drinking water, and were seeking non-dilutive funding for further development and opportunities to scale the project. They wanted to enable anyone, in any location, to conduct a bacterial contamination test and be able to upload the results digitally – instead of having to manually input the data.

Alex Patto, CEO and co-founder of WaterScope, explained: “As a social enterprise we rely on grant funding as the work we do requires a large amount of research and development, but we’re not open for commercial investment.

“We were pleased to find a local scheme as we rely on these grants for support to develop our technology. We were also able to work closely with another Cambridge-based company for expertise and the grant funding let us take the technology to the next level.”

WaterScope’s project had several parts including integrating the IoT chip into the system plus the development of an online portal to allow customers to view and disseminate data easily and remotely from anywhere. Excitingly, the portal also allows for trending and analysis of contamination to implement prevention strategies.

Having completed the necessary work with help of the grant, this Cambridge-based venture was able to better showcase their technology. This in turn enabled them to apply for further funding which has led to creating new relationships with potential distributors and customers.

Alex went on to say: “The project enabled us to explore additional revenue streams from the data collected from our testing systems. We were able to build on that and develop them.

“WaterScope’s mission is to enable inclusive access to smart, easy-to-use, and reliable testing for bacterial presence in drinking water for everyone. This grant was a key part in opening up opportunities to apply for a much larger amount of funding off the back of the advancements we were able to achieve.

“We are now in conversations with other companies to explore this work further, which we wouldn’t have been able to achieve so quickly without the Digital Technology Grant.”