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UC Riverside start-up lands $50,000 for its natural mosquito repellent


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 19th, 2018

A start-up from the University of California (UC) Riverside has landed $50,000 in seed funding to commercialize a natural mosquito repellent.

Sensorygen is based on the research of UC Riverside professor Anandasankar Ray, who studies how insects smell their targets and how certain compounds can trick the insects into leaving their targets alone. Using artificial intelligence software to isolate the desired properties, Ray and his research team found six that occur naturally and used these to create a sweet-smelling, non-toxic repellent that works as well as current DEET-based products.

“We extensively test our natural chemicals to prove that they work as well as the existing synthetic chemicals,” says Sensorygen CEO Tom Stone. “We have found that nearly every large corporation wants their products to be safer and as natural as possible to meet the preferences of today’s consumer.”

DEET, which can penetrate human skin, is the active ingredient in most mosquito repellents, even though its potential health effects are not fully known. Unfortunately, natural mosquito repellents on the market that use citronella oil instead of DEET are strong-smelling and less effective. Sensorygen’s product blends the safety of a natural product with the effectiveness of a conventional one, along with a more pleasant smell.

Sensorygen won the $50,000 in funding at a competition for UC entrepreneurs hosted by Vertical Venture Partners. The start-up has also secured funding from the Highlander Venture Fund managed by the UC Office of Technology Partnerships.

Source: UC Riverside News

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