As a kid, you were probably annoyed by demands from mom or dad to wash your hands at every turn. Like many childhood nuisances, however, it’s something many of us grew to appreciate – and with good reason.
From computer keyboards to bathroom faucets, germs are everywhere and contribute to many of the world’s deadliest diseases. Unfortunately for our health, they continue getting smarter and often adapt to withstand harsh environments or treatments that were once considered infallible. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) has named antimicrobial resistance one of the top threats to global health in the 21st century.
As germs defy even the most tried-and-true interventions, researchers and entrepreneurs around the Florida High Tech Corridor have developed inventive methods of fighting back. Whether via novel environmental innovations or through drug discovery, these individuals and organizations are taking groundbreaking measures to combat disease-causing germs, both outside and inside the human body.
Lighting the Way to a Cleaner, Healthier Future
Mark Nathan, founder and chief science officer of Celebration’s Violet Defense, ventured in 2012 to develop a better germ-fighting solution.
Perpetually sick after traveling, Mark initially suspected he had a weak immune system. However, he quickly realized he was not alone among frequent travelers who unavoidably encounter germs in airplanes, bathrooms and everywhere in between.
“You go out with your team, you come home and you’re sick for two weeks,” Mark said. “Once you get better, you travel again and you’re sick for another two weeks.”
A problem-solver from an early age, Mark was determined to develop a solution that would bring clinical-level cleaning to everyday spaces and – after 10 years of exploring hundreds of ways to kill germs – Violet Defense was born. The company’s patented technology leverages the power of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill up to 99.9 percent of germs, including salmonella, norovirus and E. coli, as well as “superbugs” like MRSA.
Scientists have known about the germ-killing properties of UV light for more than a century. An environmentally friendly solution, UV is an ideal weapon in the fight against antimicrobial resistance because germs cannot develop a resistance to light. In a marketplace where standard UV sanitation systems can be prohibitively expensive and require full-time staffing, Violet Defense stands out.
“Using UV to disinfect surfaces isn’t new,” Mark said. “What is new is the ability to shrink it, which allows for mass production. As a function of mass production, we can effectively put that technology anywhere.”
Violet Defense packages the germ-fighting technology in the form of its flagship product, Surface & Air Germ Elimination (S.A.G.E.) UV, which comes in various sizes – from the largest nine-pound unit that covers a 15-foot by 15-foot space, to a portable unit that covers a 10-foot by 10-foot space and weighs less than 3 pounds. S.A.G.E. UV fights germs without harsh chemicals and is simple to use; all you have to do is plug it in.
“This technology can be as small as a book,” Mark said. “That means you can bring hospital-grade UV to whatever space that unit is deployed – whether it’s permanently installed in the room, or whether you just set it on your desk next to your keyboard.”
Violet Defense’s germ-fighting units entered the market in 2017 and can already be found in numerous locations across the country protecting travelers, health care patients, school children, hotel guests and athletes, including team members of the Orlando Magic.