Halomine Awarded $600K in Federal Funding to Improve Food Safety

2020 has been an impactful year for Praxis Center client,  Halomine.

In addition to receiving National Science Foundation awards for its antimicrobial coating technology—$256,000 from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program to expedite product development and a separate $225,000 RAPID grant to fight hospital-based infections related to the virus—and winning $250,000 in the 2020 Grow-NY Food and Ag Competition, Halomine received $600,000 in federal funding earlier this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to support its groundbreaking research to modernize the way food processing plants sanitize food processing equipment.

Forty-eight million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses every year. Halomine’s research is focused on creating a cost-effective and accessible product that has high-efficacy against pathogens to improve the food safety disinfectant process.

“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 Senator Charles Schumer in a recent press release on the funding. “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. I will always fight to ensure that food safety research is fully supported to shore up our food supply especially in these trying times,”

The startup’s flagship product, HaloFilm, can be applied to a wide range of surfaces and materials, including plastic, metal and even fabric. It functions as a binding agent, with one adhesive molecule clinging to the surface it’s applied to, and a different molecule (N-halamine) forming a rechargeable covalent bond with chlorine.

Once HaloFilm is sprayed on a surface, any chlorinated cleaner or off-the-shelf sanitizer can be applied atop it. Without HaloFilm, these disinfectants would only be effective for about an hour before evaporating, thus allowing pathogens to take root and spread. HaloFilm locks in the chlorine, keeping high-touch surfaces free of bacteria and viruses for up to a week before the disinfectant or sanitizer needs to be reapplied. Low-traffic areas remain protected for up to a month.

“Halomine is a great example of the real-world benefit and commercial impact of Cornell research. It is a member of our Praxis startup incubator, a participant in NSF I-Corps programs, and has been supported by Cornell’s Technology Acceleration and Maturation as well as Scale Up and Prototyping grants. It is a recipient of a New York State–funded Grow-NY prize and one of a growing community of high-potential upstate New York startups built on Cornell technologies,” said Emmanuel P. Giannelis, Vice Provost for Research and Vice President for Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Research Policy at Cornell University. “We are proud of their success and look forward to their further growth as supported by this important funding from USDA.