Jan. 14, 2014 8:30 am

This Science Center startup is helping ensure wines taste good

Invisible Sentinel, which makes molecular diagnostics for the food industry, has partnered with Sonoma County's Jackson Family Wines to detect a type of yeast that spoils wines.

Invisible Sentinel founders Nicholas Siciliano (left) and Benjamin Pascal in their Science Center lab. Photo by David Swanson for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Invisible Sentinel wants to make sure wines don’t smell or taste funky. “Barnyardy,” to be specific.

The University City Science Center biotech company, which makes molecular diagnostics for the food industry, has partnered with Sonoma County’s Jackson Family Wines to help the winery detect a type of yeast that spoils wines (and, yes, gives them a “barnyardy” odor), according to a release. Invisible Sentinel has developed a pocket-sized diagnostic kit (it calls to mind Biomeme‘s pocket-sized DNA diagnostic kit) to check for the presence of the yeast.

The hope is that Invisible Sentinel’s product will be used all across the wine industry. It’s already gotten national press, with Forbes calling it a “game changer” for the wine industry.

Founded in 2006, Invisible Sentinel employs 17 and aims to double its staff this year, according to a spokesman. The company left the Science Center’s Port incubator and moved to a bigger space last fall, and it’ll make another move this summer: to a whole 7,500-square-foot floor in the Science Center’s 3711 Market Street building.

The company expects to be profitable this year,  founders Nick Siciliano and Ben Pascal told the Philadelphia Inquirer. It has raised $2 million to date, according to SEC filings.

Read more on the Inquirer.

Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.


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