Contact: Tianheng Zhao & Alex Patto, Department of Materials Science & Department of Genetics & WaterScope

Globally, 750 million people lack access to clean water, with 82% of people these living in rural areas. Waterborne diseases from bacterial pathogens have been estimated to result in over 2.2 million deaths per-year, including diarrheal, gastrointestinal diseases and systemic illnesses. People across the world should have the ability to know whether water is safe, regardless of their geolocation and knowledge background.

As a newly-founded spin-out from the first University of Cambridge Development i-Teams programme, WaterScope focuses on solutions for water quality testing and education in developing countries. The inventors are currently designing an inexpensive and portable microscope for people to use in any environment, enabling rapid identification of bacteria from water sources. In conjunction with water testing, the microscope will also be used as an educational tool. An early prototype has already been sent to India with a Cambridge student- led team (Mobile Education for Smart Technology) as a teaching aid already. Initial proof-of-concept experiments and feedbacks have been promising and WaterScope hope to bring the product to market as soon as possible.

The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate the potential markets for such a microscope for water testing and education, and recommend the best first markets for WaterScope to address. This may include, and what possible optimisations can be doneidentifying ways to make the product more suitable for these and other potential marketss. The team will approach and help establish potential contacts with NGOs, governments, schools and Universities around the world. Also the financial implications of bringing such a product into the market will be scrutinised. WaterScope are always looking for additional collaboration and there may be opportunities for team members to work with the company after the project finishes.