An American in Switzerland: Kristy Deiner is developing a KIT to genetically detect species in water.
America, Ms. Deiner, is considered the land of unlimited entrepreneurial possibilities. What made you decide to attend an entrepreneurs’ course here in Switzerland?
First, I have been living here – with interruptions – for almost a decade. And secondly, Switzerland offers excellent conditions for setting up a science-based start-up.
Your project is called Aqua Compass. Who wants to know which organisms are splashing about in a lake or river?
The buzzword is biodiversity. It’s declining in many habitats, not least because alien species can migrate and spread undisturbed without natural enemies. If we want to control this process, which has accelerated with climate change, we need to monitor habitats permanently. In water, however, it’s not so easy. DNA-based species detection has great potential here.
Do you envision mainly authorities and NGOs as buyers of your KITs?
Not only. Aquacultures are a billion dollar business worldwide. Here too, invasive organisms can cause considerable damage.
What does your business model look like?
We cover the entire value chain: In addition to the sale of KITs, we also offer the sequencing of samples as well as the identification of the species occurring in them.
An ambitious project!
That is why I have two strong partners: Elvira Mächler, a biologist from EAWAG, and Vasco Elbrecht, a bioinformatician.