Nature, is the source of inspiration for us and we want to create societal and environmental impact based on that.
InsectSense was established by Aria Samimi and Leon Schipper.
Aria has an educational background in Geology & Mining engineering. During one of his studies in bio-geo-chemistry, Aria learnt that plants can be indicators of some mineral resources. However, the challenge was to analyse hundreds of plants to learn about such mineral-ore depositions. Intrigued by this topic, he started looking for relevant solutions to this challenge.
Leon is a Dutch industrial design engineer and tech entrepreneur in innovative technologies. With his activities his focus is on creating impact to serve a social or environmental purpose. His main inspiration is his little daughter, partner and family.
How it all started
The first revelation of using honeybees to locate mineral-ores occurred to him when he saw a photograph of a bee perched on a flower on the cover of a book. Aria realised that instead of analysing hundreds of plants, it was smarter to analyse bee products; since bees themselves visit all such plants. Upon further investigation, Aria learnt about researches on the olfactory-behaviour of honeybees being used in fundamental neurobiological research and in the study of human disorders. This concept seeded the idea of using olfactory sense of honeybees for detection.
Aria conducted experiments at research centers in Germany and Sweden, where he explored the possibilities of using bees in mineral-ore detection. In Croatia, he had hands-on experience in training bees to detect landmines as well. More hands-on research and experience was gathered while working in France. During his work in Sweden, Aria was interviewed on his success by popular Swedish media journals and television.
In April-May 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had already caused severe damage to the global economy, while disrupting social-interactions and destroying millions of lives. During those times of utter chaos and panic, the world was in dire need of an early-diagnostic system that could help in rapid screening of the disease. By then, researches had already established the fact that Covid-19 caused metabolic changes in the infected system, leading to the release of disease-specific volatiles.
Bees can be trained to learn and differentiate between volatiles within few minutes, while the detection can be done within few seconds. This proved to be a revelation for Aria, as he decided to explore and apply insect-behaviour as relevant solutions in solving the global challenges posed by the pandemic. The solution was to provide a rapid yet accurate screening device that could detect and diagnose the disease effectively. This was the start of InsectSense.
InsectSense developed prototypes of Dr.Bug for pre-screening binary results. However, we did not stop just yet! In our ambitious exploration for opportunities in molecular-biotechnology, we proposed to develop a micro-array chip (LumiNose) for pre-screening purposes. As platform technology, LumiNose uses insect odourant receptors and will apply machine learning in the detection of specific volatiles depending on its application.