By Stacy Vogel Davis, Communications Director
Welcome to another edition of our Where Are They Now? series. Today’s featured company is really making the most of the programs available through The Water Council. In 2021, BloomOptix participated in the first cohort of our BREW 2.0 Post-Accelerator and started a pilot project in Wisconsin and New York through our Pilot Program. Learn about how those programs benefited the company and what it has planned for the future in this interview with Igor Mrdjen, BloomOptix project and science lead.
Tell us about BloomOptix in a nutshell.
Founded in 2019, BloomOptix specializes in developing innovative and accessible means of monitoring for harmful algal blooms. Our goal is to empower citizens, regulators, stakeholders and disenfranchised communities with rapid and reliable diagnostic tools, helping them better understand their bodies of water and the algal blooms that occur within them.
BloomOptix offers drone-based remote sensing services and consulting and is soon launching a patent-pending AI-powered pocket microscope product that diagnoses an algal bloom in 30 seconds or less. Using this cloud-enabled, extremely portable and easy-to-use tool, the BloomOptix user community will build a global database of water quality and algal bloom data, enhancing how we see our water bodies.
How did BloomOptix find out about BREW 2.0 and why did you want to participate?
BREW 2.0 was recommended to us by a colleague who is integrated into The Water Council network. We saw BREW 2.0 as an excellent opportunity to not only learn and expand out network as a water-based business, but also a chance to take the next step in our development following our accelerator success.
What are the most important things BloomOptix got out of BREW 2.0?
One of our most important findings was a more streamlined approach to our customers, problem statement and missions. Through interacting with BREW participants, we gained a lot of insight that helped us narrow in on our value, innovative spirit and path forward. Additionally, we formed critical relationships with The Water Council members and helped secure funding for our first pilot study, allowing us to deploy 10 AI-powered microscopes across Wisconsin and New York State.
How has membership in The Water Council continued to benefit BloomOptix even after the accelerator was done?
The Water Council has been a great help. We continue to access the resources to network, learn and expand. We’re currently working with member Cimbria Capital to refine our business and have gained key users and future customers across its members.
How has the Pilot Program opportunity benefited BloomOptix?
The Pilot Program was a critical step in our development of the BloomOptix AI-powered microscope. In 2021, the Pilot Program afforded us funds to engage users across two states and collect over 15,000 images upon which to base our first AI iteration. Using these key data, we streamlined our product, made valuable connections and validated our technology. Additionally, the Pilot Program was key in raising further funds to develop the BloomOptix app, launch a second pilot across five states in 2022, and gain interest for BloomOptix from key federal, state and international entities.
How has BloomOptix grown in the last year?
BloomOptix has grown incredibly quickly in 2022. We went from the Pilot Program to raising funds for a second pilot, building our AI, integrating app functionality and combining our diagnostic abilities with a databasing component. These features enable us to automatically store, process and analyze all data provided to us in real time, allowing for the creation of a global water quality database. We’ve also expanded our pilot network to include over 20 users across five states in the U.S. and shown that our product is 97.5% as accurate as a human expert analyzing the same photos.
What’s next for BloomOptix?
Currently, BloomOptix AI-powered microscopes are slated for launch during the 2023 algal bloom season. We aim to launch primarily around the U.S. and Canada, but also have growing interest in European, South American and Australian markets. BloomOptix continues to innovate in the field of AI-powered microscopy via our partnership with ioLight, and we plan to not only expand our functionality in the algal bloom field, but to other applications as well.
Read our previous Where Are They Now? entries: