GEDI Exchange

Member profile: BioBot Analytics

Two women in lab and box filled with product

Biobot Analytics is the world leader in wastewater epidemiology. This profile provides more details on how Biobot Analytics' testing empowers communities globally to analyze sewage to map the health of populations to extract information for tackling public health issues. They also discuss their excitement about joining the GEDI Exchange to "collaborate with other innovative and thrilling enterprises."

In a short pitch, how would you describe your Biobot Analytics’ offerings (products and services)? What makes it innovative? What industry sectors and/or customers are you focused on?

Biobot Analytics’ mission is to transform wastewater infrastructure into public health observatories; we aim to create a health database independent of hospital reporting systems, free from societal biases, and rapidly adaptable to emerging public health threats.

Biobot has worked in more than 700 locations globally. We have worked at sites in all 50 U.S. states to measure and predict the spread of COVID in their communities. From COVID-19 monitoring to opioid tracing, Biobot’s products can be used by government officials on all levels, public utilities, businesses, university and school campuses, and other organizations with a desire to gain comprehensive understandings of health in their communities. This allows them to make informed decisions in keeping community members safe and healthy.

Providing more detail, what is the value proposition of Biobot Analytics’ offerings? Examples could include the underlying technology, new capabilities, cost reduction, risk reduction, improved performance, new business model, etc.

Biobot Analytics utilizes wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) – the process of analyzing sewage as a source of public health information. Sewage contains valuable information on human health because of excretion in urine and stool of viruses, bacteria, and chemical metabolites. WBE is an equitable, cost-effective, non-invasive, and proactive way to monitor for the spread of COVID-19. Because of the fast onset of viral shedding with this disease, along with an additional delay between the presence of symptoms and clinical test results, wastewater data is a reliable leading indicator, providing early warning for cases that will only be diagnosed and reported in a community several days later using conventional methods.

Wastewater can be used to create a health database free from societal biases – because everyone uses the toilet. Everyone can be part of the aggregate data used by labs to test for community prevalence of the coronavirus or opioids. Wastewater analytics plays a critical role in helping officials make sound, prudent, and equitable decisions and directing scarce public health resources to the right places.

What is Biobot Analytics’ biggest achievement/success story to date?

In June of 2021, the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) selected Biobot Analytics to establish a national disease surveillance program leveraging wastewater epidemiology. Scheduled to run through the summer of 2021, HHS is funding the collection and analysis of samples from wastewater treatment plants across all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and U.S. and First Nations territories. This will cover 95 million people. The program also includes genomic sequencing to detect COVID-19 variants.

The data generated in this project is set to guide public health at multiple levels. First, the data will be delivered to the wastewater operators generating the samples. In coordination with local public health departments and elected officials, they can use that data to inform local COVID-19 response strategies. Second, the data will be deposited in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Wastewater Surveillance System for use by state and local public health departments. Third, the data will go into the HHS Protect database, allowing the White House to use and inform how to distribute nationally-funded response resources across the country.

In short, this project is providing elected officials and public health leaders, from the local level up to the White House and the CDC, with a representative, unbiased, nationwide picture of COVID-19 activity, all using a single set of harmonized protocols.

What does the future hold for Biobot Analytics?

With a wastewater monitoring infrastructure in place in the United States and globally, we can stay alert to new disease outbreaks and potential public health threats. Wastewater-based tests can identify hidden infection hotspots and high concentrations of drug use. These tests can also detect early other public health indicators of concern in communities connected to sewer systems. Such early indication allows for focused mitigation, testing, and outreach efforts where they are most needed, making the entire response more efficient and impactful to stop the spread of a disease or reduce addiction and overdoses.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that public health permeates everything: its interconnectedness within infrastructure, national security, and the general wellbeing of our entire planet. At Biobot Analytics, we believe we must use this moment to build a better public health infrastructure with wastewater epidemiology technology to ensure we are better prepared to protect our communities and save lives in the next global health crisis.

What is Biobot Analytics’ connection to the University of Waterloo?

Biobot Analytics was co-founded by University of Waterloo alum Newsha Ghaeli ’11. At Waterloo, Ghaeli received an Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies with distinction. She also serves as Biobot’s President.

Why did you decide to join the GEDI Exchange? What are you looking for? What do you want get out of it?

Our team at Biobot Analytics is excited to join the GEDI Exchange to connect and collaborate with other innovative and thrilling enterprises in the science and biotechnology spheres associated with UWaterloo.

BioBot Analytics