Like many companies, when we launched our strategic plan in January, we had no idea what the year would hold. We will remember 2020 not only as a year of unprecedented challenges, but of resilience and innovation.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the milestones that made this a truly monumental year for LuminUltra.
Automating microbial testing
In February we launched our BugCount® Online ATP Analyzer. This automated, on-site monitoring system incorporates the speed and accuracy of our gold-standard 2nd Generation ATP technology, allowing operators to focus on other important tasks — and increasing testing capacity without increasing workload.
Answering the Prime Minister’s call-to-action
As the full implications of the pandemic reached North America, Canada’s Prime Minister put out a call-to-action in March for businesses to help in the fight against COVID-19. We quickly responded, applying our expertise in developing rapid, portable molecular biology diagnostic testing solutions to produce 500,000 COVID-19 clinical test kits per week for the national testing program. To date, we’ve shipped more than 18 million test kits across Canada.
Environmental surveillance testing solutions
Understanding the benefits of an integrated approach to COVID-19 testing we developed and launched a range of environmental surveillance solutions — testing surfaces and wastewater for the presence of the virus.
Environmental surveillance tools can be used for a variety of purposes, for example: identifying whether an infected person was present in a given space or verifying that the virus has been properly eradicated following disinfection. This crucial information arms decision makers with measurable insight into the safety of their facilities, communities, and disinfection protocols.
New state-of-the-art manufacturing facility & company growth
We continue to scale up our operations and opened a new, multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in New Brunswick, Canada in a matter of months. This project received funding support from Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen). To effectively scale up our operations, we also focused on adding more great people to our team. Our workforce has more than doubled over the course of the year.
World’s first rapid, on-site COVID-19 wastewater test
Scientists from LuminUltra and Dalhousie University collaborated to assess real-world wastewater samples provided by Halifax Water, to refine and improve the process needed to prepare a sample for accurate wastewater testing. This fall, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Health and Human Services have publicly recognized the importance of wastewater surveillance testing by creating a National Wastewater Surveillance System — further validating the practice.
The partnership with Dalhousie University and Halifax Water resulted in patent filing for the world’s first complete, rapid, and on-site COVID-19 wastewater testing solution — making non-invasive community health assessment far more accessible to communities and businesses around the world.
Complete clinical testing solution
We developed and received Health Canada authorization to distribute our GeneCount® COVID-19 RT-qPCR Assay Kit. These solutions give governments and businesses the tools they need to deliver a high volume of the most accurate COVID-19 test results possible in under two hours. With our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, we have the production capacity and supplies necessary to meet the testing needs for all of Canada.
Restoring public confidence at conference venues
The RealComm iBcon conference was our first and only in-person conference appearance since March.
While attendees tuned in virtually, speakers and sponsors gathered at the event space in Colorado. LuminUltra’s environmental surveillance solution was used to verify the efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 mitigation efforts — restoring confidence for those attending that with the right combination of tools and protocols, life can resume in this new normal.
Partnership with the Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS)
This fall, we formed a partnership with The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS) with a focus on environmental surveillance, providing global education on the importance of verifying proper disinfection protocols. TIPS is a non-profit organization that works to advance innovations, ideas and processes that make a difference in global health. Advocating for science-based approaches to infection prevention is a key component of their mandate and LuminUltra is participating in the TIPS Science to Market program, which is designed to highlight innovations in this area to a broader market.
Research partnership with BuiltSpace and UBC
In December, we partnered with BuiltSpace and scientists at The University of British Columbia’s Michael Smith Labs to conduct research on the use of environmental surveillance testing to validate the effectiveness of disinfection efforts and early detection of SARS-CoV-2 in educational settings. The crucial information obtained from our work will arm decision-makers with measurable insight into the safety of their facilities, giving them the knowledge they need to take a variety of actions – like cleaning, contact tracing, and clinical testing – that can help keep students and teachers safe.
Source Molecular acquisition
At the end of November, we acquired Miami-based Source Molecular Corporation, a leader in lab-based testing solutions for microbial source tracking of pathogens including SARS-CoV-2. With this acquisition, we’re able to further expand our range of molecular testing options for a variety of use cases. Customers around the world can now choose to analyze samples remotely via mail-in service to Source Molecular, or rapidly on-site using our gold-standard GeneCount® qPCR testing kits.
Thank you to our customers
We couldn’t have achieved any of this without our customers. Working with our customers to help identify their microbial challenges is our passion and we’ve had the opportunity to do some amazing collaborations. It’s been a busy year and our whole company is proud to have been a part of solutions that can be used in the fight against the global pandemic.
We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to hitting the ground running in 2021.