Laying the Foundation for a Breakthrough Technology
OptiEnz Sensors, LLC, is a biotech company that produces innovative biosensors for continuously measuring organic chemical concentrations in water and aqueous solutions. The technology is based on 14 years of fundamental research on enzymatic sensor tips by the company’s founder and CTO, Dr. Ken Reardon.
In the 1990s, Reardon, a professor and researcher at Colorado State University (CSU), recognized a significant need for a device that could measure the concentration of chemical contaminants in food and water—a device that could take these measurements rapidly, accurately, and inexpensively. Although traditional laboratory sampling methods can yield very accurate measurements, they are also complex, time-intensive, expensive, and—most importantly—they do not provide continuous in-place measurements.
Building on his years of research experience in biosensor technology and bioremediation, Reardon decided to combine his knowledge of biosensors and bacterial enzymes to produce a better tool for measuring contaminants in water. He spent the next 10 years developing the cutting-edge biosensor technology in his laboratory at CSU, with help from fellow engineering professors Kevin Lear and David Dandy, several postdoctoral researchers, and CSU graduate and undergraduate students.
From Research Lab to Product Development
In 2010, working in tandem with Cenergy, CSU’s commercialization arm for clean and renewable technologies developed at the university, Reardon created OptiEnz Sensors, LLC, to develop, manufacture, and sell the biosensors. Later that year, the first commercial prototype sensor was developed, and OptiEnz began field testing. The company has now constructed and tested sensor tips for 18 different organic chemicals including alcohols, sugars, and hydrocarbons.
In 2012, OptiEnz officially spun off from CSU and became a client company of the Rocky Mountain Innosphere—a technology incubator that supports entrepreneurial ventures and startup companies related to cleantech, bioscience, and technology in Colorado. OptiEnz has been awarded funding from the Colorado House Bill 1001 early-stage commercialization grant and a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.
OptiEnz offices and labs are now located in the Rocky Mountain Innosphere building in Fort Collins, about two miles from the Colorado State University campus.