Irish start-up’s germ-killing coating effective against coronavirus

30 Apr 2020

From left: Atlantic Bridge’s Dr Chris Horn with Kastus CEO John Browne. Image: Atlantic Bridge

Kastus has developed an antimicrobial coating that can be used on smartphones, self-service kiosks, appliances and other surfaces to kill MRSA, E coli and, now, coronavirus.

Irish start-up Kastus, which was founded in 2014 as a spin-out of TU Dublin, has received validation from New York testing lab Nelson Laboratories that its antimicrobial coating is effective against the coronavirus.

Developed using research conducted by CEO John Browne and technology expert Dr James Kennedy, the start-up’s solution can be used to protect everyday surfaces such as smartphones, glass, door handles, ceramics and metals, from a range of bacteria and superbugs.

When we spoke to Kastus about the coating in 2017, Browne told “The solution is applied in the factory when the glass or metal is made, and it is permanently there. This is critical because electronic devices are among the most potent carriers of superbugs.”

In 2018, the company partnered with Science Foundation Ireland on a €280,000 project aimed at stopping superbugs in hospitals.

Effective against coronavirus

Now that the company has received validation that its coating technology is also effective against coronavirus, Browne expects that demand for the start-up’s technology will increase significantly.

Speaking to the Irish Times this week, Browne said: “This gives our customers and commercial partners a real unique selling point in that they are bringing out products that can help save people’s lives. It should also mean that businesses that are reopening following the lifting of restrictions will be better prepared to ensure public safety.”

He added that the firm has spent around €1m on its intellectual property portfolio and IP strategy, “with a view that the day would come eventually and the penny would drop in regard to how important the solution is”.

According to the Irish Times, Kastus is in the process of targeting a €10m Series B round and has plans to double its staff to 50 people.

The coating

Kastus says that its coating tech can protect against up to 99.99pc of bacteria such as MRSA, E coli, the fungus associated with athlete’s foot, and more, including the ‘dirty dozen’ superbugs listed by the World Health Organization.

The start-up’s solution is baked into materials during the kiln firing process. Browne previously told us: “It forms a top-layer surface and uses the indoor light moisture in the air to kill the bacteria.

“It’s a very thin layer and therefore economical for mass production.”

Dublin-based Kastus has already partnered with companies such as Zagg, Exertis, GuangDong NorthGlass, Infinitas and Touchrate. Its tech has been used in self-service touchscreens at fast-food restaurants, self-cleaning glass, smartphones, wearables, screen protectors and home appliances.

When we spoke to Browne in 2017, he remarked: “It is not going to be an overnight success but the potential is there for us to agree to some very significant deals.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic