-BioAssured Certifies ‘Gold Standard of Clean’-
Do you remember what it felt like to walk into a restaurant a year ago? Chances are you weren’t thinking about how far apart the tables were, how many hand sanitizing stations were available, or whether the menus would be on paper or a QR code. In dining rooms, stores and parks, the pandemic has changed the way we view cleanliness, the way we hold others accountable, and the way we view the relationship between businesses and their responsibility to keep us safe.
The entrepreneurs and scientists behind Central Florida-based BioAssured saw potential in this new normal. The company has brought together scientifically proven methods of disinfection and sanitization to create a proprietary process and certification that shows a building or space has reached what it calls a “gold standard of clean” from germs.
“This is the first time in history we have expected entrepreneurs and business leaders to understand things like the differences between cleaning and sanitizing and disinfecting,” CEO Angela Robbins said. “So we set out to bring together established scientific methods for disinfection, helping cut through the clutter of what was available and what is actually working.”
Those methods include not only traditional disinfection and training but also durable, long-lasting biostatic coating, 222 nanometer UVC (FAR-UVC) light, and thorough compliance testing of surfaces and air. The company is marketing its solution to large public spaces, event venues, government buildings, offices, schools, airports, factories and other places where people work or gather.
Stumbling Upon a Solution
“At the beginning of this, everyone was overwhelmed, and it led to a lot of inaction,” Robbins said. “I saw a lot of living in the short term as opposed to finding a long-term solution. Companies could hire disinfecting experts to clean everything, fog chemicals into the space, get the entire building disinfected, but the second people walk in, all bets are off. A surface is only clean until the first person contaminates it. So we had to find continuous protection and looked toward a technology that could provide that, while also being conscientious of the long-term effects of excessive chemical dumping into an environment.”
She also cites the all-too-familiar “cleaning fatigue” that many believe has contributed to a spike in cases as people began to get lax about safety protocols or use products incorrectly.
Robbins began to consider a more sustainable solution after she was asked by several small gyms to research their reopening plans. Although her current career is in marketing strategy and brand consulting at Moxie Brands, Robbins has a passion for dance, along with a history in the female sports space, which has helped her foster relationships with sports organizations.
She was also enlisted by a cheerleading and dance industry professionals group to create online classes and guides for gym owners who needed to navigate potential closures and reopenings.
As March came around and it became apparent that students would not be going back to school, new worries kept her up at night. Students were suddenly pulled from their favorite sports and activities because of the possibility they could contract COVID-19 at places they normally would frequent. As an advocate for child safety and an active member of the Orlando-based nonprofit United Abolitionists, Robbins knew that for some students, time away from school and sports might expose them to a different kind of danger: domestic violence, which increases when families are experiencing the stress of economic hardship, or the threat of being targeted online by dangerous adults.
“I was feeling so anxious about all of this,” Robbins said. “It was like all my worlds were colliding and calling to me to help.”
This led to helping dance studios and nearly 200 gymnastics and cheerleading gyms reopen from March until May by teaching online classes to 50 to 75 gym owners at a time, communicating protocols to members of various trade groups, and then helping source materials like cleaning products and surface protectants to implement the new guidelines.
She dove into the search for solutions and stumbled upon the use of nanotechnology and biostatics. “The history of this actually started in the textile industry,” Robbins explained. “If you remember Odor-Eaters insoles from the ’90s, it’s the same technology used in textiles to control odor by controlling bacterial growth rather than by masking it.”
She called her neighbor and friend Dr. Jason Eichenholz, co-founder of Luminar Technologies and a well-known technology leader in Central Florida. He connected her with retired Navy Capt. Dr. Wes Naylor, who was then interim director of the University of Central Florida Institute for Simulation and Training and was working on a white paper for the Navy on how to keep personnel safe, looking for solutions just as Robbins had been. The three spent several days of uninterrupted work in April putting together a business.
How It Works
They soon established a scientific advisory board and put the technologies through a rigorous vetting process, but it was partnerships with local companies Massey Services of Orlando and Health of Cocoa Beach that would round out the trademarked BioAssured process that launched in June 2020.
“We offer different levels, depending on what the client is looking for,” Robbins said. “Some choose to employ our two-step cleaning process, which can be deployed by the company or by our service provider partner Massey Services. Step one involves disinfecting the building with products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as effective against viruses including COVID-19. This step prepares surfaces for the application of the biostatic and is necessary for the finish to do its job effectively.”
“Without that first step, applying the biostatic is like applying wax to a dirty car,” she said. “The finish wouldn’t be able to bond properly to the surface where it’s applied. Once a biostatic is in place on a surface, it essentially becomes a self-sanitizing surface.”
If you were to look at the finish under a microscope, she said, it would look like a bed of positively charged spikes or “microscopic swords” — polymers chemically bonded to the material. Those swords are positively charged, which means bacteria and viruses that have cell walls with a negative charge will be drawn into them. The swords can deactivate harmful microorganisms continually, 24/7, for a minimum of 30 days.
Beyond the two-step disinfecting process, BioAssured’s partnership with Healthe gives clients access to a suite of products that use far-ultraviolet C (UVC) light, a frequency of light that naturally kills up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including corona viruses, and is safe where people are present.
“This is a different nanometer of light, one that is safe for our shared spaces because it can’t penetrate past the top layer of your eye or into your skin,”
Robbins said. “It kills pathogens in a matter of seconds, it’s chemical free and it’s continuous.”
BioAssured also offers its clients training for employees on hygiene intervention protocols as well as regular compliance testing to be sure the buildings given the BioAssured certification and the people working within them are staying safe.
The BioAssured seal has already been issued to clients including Osceola Heritage Park, where more than 100,000 people attended events in recent months. The venue went to BioAssured for guidance when coordinating the Mecum Auto Auction held in August 2020 and has used the process for other events such as the All Out Championships Season Showcase, which took place in December. Mecum came back to Osceola Heritage Park in January 2021.
“They took us up on all of our services, so we were able to provide content for their reopening guide, train their staff on the process and install signage throughout the venue, all steps to build the public’s trust and instill confidence by communicating what we are doing to keep them safe,” Robbins said.
“Our commitment is to the public — we aren’t exclusively tied to any product or solution,” she said. “We will be constantly sourcing the most effective methods for continuous protection and addressing all those vectors to be the best partners we can be.”
Photography by Julie Fletcher
As seen in January | February edition of i4 Business Magazine