A California-based biotech company has relocated its headquarters to Grand Forks.

On Jan. 1, SafetySpect Inc. moved to UND’s Center for Innovation. The company established an office there last summer, as part of the North Dakota Bioscience Association (BioND). The Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation has been working with BioND and SafetySpect Inc. on the transition.

In July 2020, SafetySpect was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture for developing the Contamination and Sanitation Inspection and Disinfection device (CSI-D), which scans surfaces to find respiratory droplets and other substances not visible to the naked eye, but could endanger health, including COVID-19. The technology allows direct, instant measurement of whether a surface is contaminated, with scientific verification.

“With North Dakota’s only medical school, Grand Forks is a great match for a company growing in the biotech cluster,” said Brandon Baumbach, EDC director of business development. “The research and development at UND has primed our region for a company like SafetySpect. We’re grateful for the work of Richard Glynn, executive director of BioND, for his efforts to support SafetySpect’s relocation to Grand Forks and to promote the biotech industry across the state of North Dakota.”

At present, the science behind CSI-D is being verified by UND’s College of Engineering and Mines and School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is being validated for regulatory compliance. SafetySpect is also using a manufacturing facility in Wahpeton, N.D., to produce the device.

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“We have found great, highly skilled people to help expand our business, in addition to a world class manufacturing facility, ComDel Innovation, to commercialize our CSI-D+ system,” said Kenneth Barton, CEO of SafetySpect. “North Dakota makes for a great place to do business in the United States today.”

The proprietary technology that provides a “CSI-D certified clean” was initially conceived and prototyped by scientists with the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, to keep service members safe from contaminants in hostile conditions. Since 2018, SafetySpect has worked to improve and deepen the technology to suit commercial needs and bring a new system to detect, disinfect and document viral/bacterial infectious agents.

The device detects harmful pathogens, including respiratory droplets containing viruses such as COVID-19, and disinfects them in seconds using an integrated UVC light, the highest energy portion of the ultraviolet radiation spectrum.

SafetySpect’s first batch of CSI-D devices will be ready for commercialization in the first quarter of 2021.