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R-Zero-Making Intelligent Air Disinfection More Economical and Efficient



The Driver:


R-Zero recently raised $105M in a Series C financing led by investment firm CDPQ with participation from BMO Financial Group, Qualcomm Ventures, Upfront Ventures, DBL Partners, World Innovation Lab, Mayo Clinic, Bedrock Capital, SOSV and legendary venture capital investor John Doerr. The Series C financing brings the total amount raised by R-Zero to more than $170M since its founding in 2020. The company will use the funds to scale deployments of its disinfection and risk modeling technology to meet growing demand across public and private sectors, including hospitals, senior care communities, parks and recreation, other government facilities, and college and corporate campuses.


Key Takeaways:

  • According to the company, R-Zero’s technology neutralizes 99.9% of airborne and surface microorganisms

  • R-Zero’s UV-C products cost anywhere from $3K to $28K compared with traditional institutional UV-C technology which can cost anywhere from $60K to $125K

  • Using R-Zero's products results in more than 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and waste compared to HVAC and chemical approaches

  • For every dollar employers spend on health care, they’re spending 61 cents on illness-related absences and reduced productivity (Integrated Benefits Institute)

The Story:


R-Zero was co-founded by Grant Morgan, Eli Harris and Ben Boyer. Morgan, who has an engineering background, had worked briefly as CTO of GIST and had been V.P. of product and engineering at iCracked and was previously in R&D in medical devices. Harris co-founded EcoFlow (an energy solutions company) and has been in partnerships and BD at drone company DJI, while Boyer had been an MD at an early-growth stage VC Tenaya Capital. According to the company, the co-founders applied their experience to innovating an outdated legacy industry to make hospital-grade UVC technology accessible to small and medium-sized businesses. Prior to R-Zero these units could cost anywhere from $60-$125K and often lacked the connected infrastructure and analytics necessary to optimize performance and provide risk analytics for its users (ex: how frequently and heavily rooms are being used and when to use disinfection to help mitigate risk).


The Differentiators:


As noted above, typical institutional ultraviolet (UV) disinfectant lighting technology can be expensive and has the potential to be harmful (hihigh-poweredVC lights can cause eye injuries if people are exposed to them for long periods of time), however, R-Zero has found ways to mitigate these issues. First, as noted in Forbes, its products run anywhere from $28K for their most expensive device the Arc, to the Beam at $5K and the Vive at $3K. Moreover, while the Arc can only be used to disinfect an empty room due to the wavelength of UVC light, the Beam creates a disinfection zone above people in a room while the Vive can be used to combat harmful microorganisms when people are in a room. In addition, according to the company R-Zero’s technology neutralizes 99.9% of airborne and surface microorganisms and does so with 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and waste compared to HVAC and chemical approaches. As a result, R-Zero can help improve indoor air quality in hospitals and other medical facilities, factories, warehouses, and other workplaces more efficiently and effectively than outdated technologies.


Implications:


As noted above, R-Zero’s technology will help hospitals and senior care facilities cost effectively sanitize treatment spaces which can’t necessarily be done with current technology. Moreover, as medical care increasingly moves to outpatient settings the ongoing workplace shortage will challenge these facilities to find ways to keep themselves clean and disinfected and avoid disease transmission. For example, the company claims that their customers have been reducing labor costs by 30%-40%, a number which will likely only get higher given the current labor situation. In addition, even in facilities that have the necessary workforce, it is often difficult to optimize staff time to ensure that offices are sanitized and used to maximum capacity. Utilizing devices like the R-Zero Beam or Vive can allow medium-to-small size facilities to constantly and efficiently be disinfecting rooms, making them immediately available for use.. Also, by removing the burdensome task of having already overworked clinical or janitorial staff spend time sanitizing the rooms, R-Zero’s technology can help improve employee productivity and satisfaction at a time when both are stretched thin.



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