A student of Altai State University to receive a million rubles for the implementation of her startup project

28 October 2022 Department of Information and Media Commuications

Postgraduate student of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University Anastasia Koltunova came up with a test system that allows to determine the number of bacteria in food and water. With this project, she won the "Student Startup" competition of the federal project "University Technological Entrepreneurship Platform" in 2022.

The competition is held by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science and the Innovation Promotion Foundation. 1,000 students were selected from all over the country, who will receive 1 million rubles each for the development of their business projects. Their implementation will contribute to the achievement of technological sovereignty and ensure the economic security of the country, because the projects are focused on the creation of new devices, intelligent manufacturing, chemical, digital and biotechnologies, and are also presented in the field of medicine, resource-saving energy and creative industries.

The project of AltSU graduate student Anastasia Koltunova is aimed at import substitution of test systems for the quantitative measurement of bacterial organisms on food products. Such kits exist in the world, but there are no analogues in Russia.

“This kit will allow even a person without a special education to quickly check food for health risks without involving additional equipment and materials. Test systems will allow to identify the number of microorganisms in lactic acid products and water. The kit will include buffers, test tubes, pipettes, and a reference scale. No additional materials and equipment will be needed. The scheme is simple: "add, incubate, and measure." Resazurin will be processed by living bacteria, and the color of the solution will change. The process will take about half an hour,” says Anastasia Koltunova.

The development will be of interest to both small and medium-sized businesses (agrarians, dairy farms), government services (Health Inspection Service, etc.), and ordinary people. It allows to check lakes, springs, wells, pools, and tap water for the presence of dangerous bacteria.

"Testing food is also relevant. For example, fermented milk products (sour cream, kefir, yogurt, sourdough, and milk) contain healthy microflora, but we cannot reliably know the number of CFU, so we rely only on information from the packaging. And what if technological processes, conditions of transportation or storage were violated? Our test system will help remove all doubts and choose the most useful product,” notes Anastasia.

According to the author of the project, test systems are in demand, since the supply of a number of foreign goods, including reagents, to Russia has been suspended. In addition, foreign analogues are inferior to the ratio of the number of samples/price. For example, a system manufactured in the UK, worth of 30,000 rubles, is designed for five samples, therefore the price of one sample is 6,000 rubles. The cost of a kit of our scientists will be comparable to the price of a few mugs of coffee, which makes it affordable for mass use.

Now the project is at the idea stage. A crucial stage is ahead - the cultivation of bacteria from water sources and the creation of buffer solutions. Funds received as part of the Student Startup competition will be used to purchase the necessary reagents, register a patent, a marketing company, create a website, accountant services and salaries for project participants.

Research is carried out on the basis of the bioengineering laboratory of the South Siberian Botanical Garden. There are two people in the team: Anastasia Koltunova and Vladimir Zaikov, a second-year postgraduate student at IBB. The project is supervised by Maxim Kutsev.

The authors of the project expect that it will take no more than a year to complete the project and bring the product to the market.

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