Windi Muziasari is the runner-up of the Young Researcher Entrepreneur Award in 2021. In Resistomap, she found a way to turn her academic expertise into a business that helps policymakers combat one of the biggest threats facing global health.
What problem is Resistomap solving?
“The antibiotic resistance is called the silent pandemic. It is one of the biggest threats to global health, especially in developing countries. Antibiotics are commonly used in hospitals to treat patients or in agriculture to support food production and they often end up in the environment along with wastewater for example. Eventually, the bacterias’ ability to resist antibiotics eventually spreads and transfers to other bacteria. This significantly hampers the treatment of bacterial infectious diseases such as pneumonia and sepsis.”
What is your solution to the problem?
“We provide researchers and public authorities with fast and efficient means to monitor the bacterias’ level of resistance in the environment. Customers can send us samples from wastewater, manure fertilizer or soils. We provide them with data that helps to identify the source of the resistant bacteria. With this information the outbreaks of diseases can be mitigated or prevented.”
What kind of research is your business based on?
“To analyze the samples, we need understanding in microbial biotechnology and molecular genetics. Since we are working with large sets of data and need to present our findings in a way that’s easy to understand, we also need expertise in data science – which is where our co-founder William Nurmi comes into the picture. I met him when I was studying for my Master’s degree in South Korea. When I introduced the idea for Resistomap, he was onboard straightaway.”
What inspired you to start a business?
“Resistant bacteria are a common environmental problem in developing countries, mostly because local authorities don’t have the means to monitor the resistance. I felt a strong urge to contribute to this challenge with the know-how I had gained. However, making progress in the academic world was slow.
As a postdoc researcher at the University of Helsinki I became exposed to the local startup scene and biotechnology industry. The encouragement from my university supervisors and the startup community helped me realize that I can help combat antibiotic resistance through entrepreneurship. Instead of depending on the grants I can collaborate with customers directly who benefit from our solution.”
What plans has Resistomap got in store for the future?
“Our mission is to provide global monitoring of antibiotic resistance in the environment. We have been in operation from 2019 and already we have done 140 projects in 30 different countries, analyzing over two thousands of samples. The data set has to be large because every area has its unique problem depending on restrictions in the use of antibiotics, the type of agriculture and the environment. We still need more to build a global database for environmental antibiotic resistance so that people can locate areas where resistance is high, find out ways to mitigate it and support policymakers.”
The Young Researcher Entrepreneur is an award of 5 000 euros, awarded annually by the KAUTE Foundation to a person who has developed a new research-based business. This year, the jury decided to award a runner-up prize of 3 000 euros. Read more about the award!