Following on from years of university research on biosensors based on optics and photonics technology, five partners set up DNAPhone. Their aim was to create optoelectronic devices for portable diagnostics that were capable of quick, simple analysis, integrating with widely used devices such as tablets or smartphones.
In March 2014, DNAPhone was selected to become part of the B-Ventures technology startup incubation and acceleration program. B-Ventures is promoted by Buongiorno S.p.A., the world's leading provider of digital services and mobile app development and part of the Japanese NTT Docomo group.
Following the incubation period, the company was established in July 2014 and then accessed the acceleration program. DNAPhone offers two distinct product types:
- Smart Analysis: a professional device designed for small and medium-sized businesses in the agri-food industry, able to implement individual measures to control the quality of agri-food products. Innovation-based technology was initially developed as part of research within the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Parma and subsequently refined and optimised following the establishment of the company. The technology platform (patent application filed in December 2015) consists of two main segments: hardware and software. The hardware consists of a closed module, within which are located the optical and electronic components necessary for the analysis. The hardware is integrated with a smart platform, which, using a dedicated software application, guides the user through the analysis phases. The software, in addition to controlling the hardware-user interaction, manages the final data of the analysis, saving it locally and allowing the user to share it in the cloud or in a company server for subsequent retrieval and post-processing.
- WeLAB: alongside the previously described B2B market product line, the company has implemented a biological and chemical analysis solution for use in education. The WeLAB is a portable modular laboratory consisting of several functional modules, each of which focuses on a specific measurement. Depending on the experience they wish to create, the user mounts the relevant module and creates the desired experiment. WeLAB currently has two basic modules, a microscope and a photometer (for the biochemical analysis of liquids). In the future, additional modules will be implemented. The system is designed to be used by students at high schools, colleges, technical or agricultural schools and universities, wherever there are courses that require biology- or chemistry-related lab activities. The solution was designed so that students can understand the workings and the logic behind biochemical analysis in a simple and economical way.
The company has won several public competitions, including:
- Emilia Romagna Region Call for Startups 2015 (POR FESR 2007-2013 - Axis 1 - Activities I.2.1 Support for the start-up of new innovative enterprises - year 2014)
- Young Entrepreneurial Talents Competition, announced by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry MIPAAF, for EXPO2015 (https://www.politicheagricole.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/8107)
- IMPACT accelerator (2nd call) http://www.impact-accelerator.com/
In addition, the company has received the confidence of private lenders, who have invested in two consecutive rounds:
- June 2015, with a capital increase of €200,000
- March 2016, with a capital increase of €200,000
Funding partners, including industrial investors, are: Borealis Tech Ventures srl, Capital B srl, Francesco Mutti's Red Lions srl, Giampaolo Cagnin's Synergetic srl.
Regione Emilia-Romagna - Direzione Generale economia della conoscenza, del lavoro e dell'impresa