By PJ Bellomo
This past May, Fort Detrick Alliance recognized Blue Sources with its inaugural Innovator of the Year award. A non-profit organization based in Frederick, MD, Fort Detrick Alliance pursues a mission that includes facilitating communication between Federal agencies at Fort Detrick and the local business community as well as serving as an advocate for “the important work done at Fort Detrick in the areas of cancer research, biological research and vaccine development, medical protection of the nation’s Armed Forces, and global communications.”
Blue Sources can trace its origins to Fort Detrick. The original idea for a fish biomonitor to detect acutely toxic chemicals in water stemmed from scientists working for the U.S. Army Center for Environment Health Research (USACEHR) at Fort Detrick. Over 20 years of research led these scientists to settle on Bluegills as the canary-in-a-coal-mine for water. After combining Bluegills’ natural detection abilities with some engineering innovations and a proprietary AI software model, USACEHR developed a first generation fish biomonitor with non-military applications.
Circa 2005 USACEHR launched the first generation (gen-1) biomonitor technology into production service at 10+ public water utilities as well as a wastewater facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground. For reasons related to defense industry consolidation and changes in priorities, further development stalled. Notwithstanding, with neither commercial support nor a product roadmap, most of the gen-1 production users kept the fish biomonitor running for over a decade because of the uncanny reliability of Bluegills as compared to manmade analytical monitoring devices.
In September 2014 Blue Sources encountered some of the Fort Detrick team at a tech transfer exhibition. By July 2015 Blue Sources signed a license agreement with the U.S. Army acquiring exclusive worldwide rights to five patents and related intellectual property. TEDCO funded Blue Sources with $100,000 from its seed fund in May 2017, which Blue Sources applied almost entirely to reengineering the decade-old biomonitor technology. In 2019 Blue Sources announced the launch of its new biomonitor, the BG-2, along with a monitoring-as-a-service, MaaS, subscription offering.
The Innovator of the Year Award from Fort Detrick Alliance comes on the heels of the FLC (Federal Lab Consortium) recognizing Blue Sources and the US Army for Excellence in Tech Transfer at its March 2019 annual meeting. For more information on Fort Detrick Alliance click here.
Trust the fish.