CEO Ted Eveleth, MBA ’90, and CTO Mingyu Qiao give a presentation on their company, Halomine, during the 2019 Grow-NY competition in Rochester.

Cornell startup awarded $600K to improve food safety

Halomine, a Cornell-based startup developing cutting-edge technologies for the sanitation of food processing equipment, has been awarded $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), under Phase II of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

One of the primary objectives of the USDA-NIFA program is related to manufacturing and scaling up production. Halomine, which is focused on creating antimicrobial coating technologies to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens, is in the midst of a scale-up that could result in a material ready for trials, and possibly sales, in the first quarter of 2021.

Cornell impacting New York State

“Amidst the pandemonium of the pandemic, Cornell-based Halomine is conducting vital research that will give New Yorkers the peace of mind that the food on their tables is safe to eat,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. “Contaminated food sickens millions and kills thousands of Americans every year, making proper food processing equipment sanitation all the more important to keeping consumers healthy.”

Halomine is a member of the Praxis Center for Venture Development, Cornell’s engineering and physical sciences technology incubator, and is developing antimicrobial solutions (licensed through the Center for Technology Licensing) to ensure food safety.

Halomine is also partnered with the McGovern Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences to conduct biological research and testing against coronaviruses.

The technology grew out of a collaboration between Minglin Ma, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and former postdoctoral researcher Mingyu Qiao. After exploring the innovation’s commercial viability as part of UNY I-Corps and I-Corps Teams, the pair partnered with Ted Eveleth, MBA ’90, to launch Halomine in 2019.

The startup’s flagship product, HaloFilm, can be applied to a variety of surfaces and materials to extend the life of chlorine-based disinfectants. Halofilm acts as a binding agent, with one adhesive molecule clinging to the surface on which it is sprayed, and another molecule (N-halamine) forming a rechargeable bond with the chlorine in the disinfectant that is applied on top.

“We appreciate the support that we have gotten from so many different agencies and officials, and are diligently working to bring HaloFilm to market as quickly as possible,” Eveleth said. “The funding has been critical to support our technical development for a product that, clearly, will address a significant need.”

In 2020, Halomine won $250,000 at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit and received two National Science Foundation (NSF) awards to develop its antimicrobial coating technology: $256,000 from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research program to expedite product development related to the virus; and a separate $225,000 grant for product development oriented toward other non-food applications.

Sara Baier is a marketing and communications specialist for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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Lindsey Knewstub