May 31, 2023
College Park, Md.-based Pathotrak, an Mtech Ventures, I-Corps, and MIPS startup developing food safety technologies, has received a TEDCO Venture Funds investment of $300,000.
The funding was announced by TEDCO on May 23.
A current Mtech Ventures incubator company, Pathotrak has developed a next-generation sample prep process that enables food safety tests in six hours, shortening what is typically a 22-hour process.
“Until Pathotrak, producers would need to wait for the results of pathogen tests, leading to expensive warehousing and refrigeration,” said Javier Atencia, CEO and founder of Pathotrak. “Through our innovative solution, we are eliminating this need by cutting down the time it takes to get results, which will also help prevent costly recalls and food waste.”
In 2022, the company received AOAC® Performance Tested℠ certification for its foodborne pathogen enrichment kits, applying to the detection of salmonella and pathogenic e. Coli in romaine lettuce. In 2023, Pathotrak received AOAC® Performance Tested℠ certification for 1,500 grams of romaine lettuce per acre to meet new regulations.
The company’s test is the only AOAC®-approved method to meet these regulations in a single test. Pathotrak has also applied for beef testing certification.
Pathotrak has developed a patented method of separating and concentrating pathogens from food samples more rapidly than conventional methods. This technology addresses the enrichment step of food testing, during which samples are incubated for 22-48 hours until enough bacteria are grown to be tested effectively. The company’s solution, provided as a sample prep kit, employs microfiltration processes to create an environment where the bacteria reproduce quickly. Samples are then ready in as little as four hours, after which they can be analyzed using most current polymerase chain reaction (PCR) pathogen tests for foods.
Pathotrak’s initial technology was jointly developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland and was licensed to the company. Since then, Pathotrak has developed a portfolio of technologies focused on expediting food safety tests and tailored to different food matrices, sample sizes, and pathogens. The company has one patent issued in the U.S. and Europe and six pending.
Pathotrak has raised a combined $2.4 million through its pre-seed and seed rounds of funding.
Pathotrak is a graduate of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, as well as the UMD I-Corps Program. The company is also a former Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) funding recipient.
TEDCO’s evergreen Venture Funds are dedicated to supporting the growth of the next generation of early-stage businesses in Maryland; these funds are one of the many investment opportunities available through TEDCO to qualifying technology startups and small businesses.