Biotechnology / bwtech incubator / Food and drink / Health / Science

This DNA-testing company wants to be known for more than just seafood

InstantLabs got a controlling investment from D.C.'s Angeon Group. The company is ready for a sales (and hiring) push.

A pair of mating blue crabs, known as a "doubler," in a dip net in Kent Island, Md., on Aug. 27, 2010. (Photo by Flickr user Alicia Pimental/Chesapeake Bay Program, used under a Creative Commons license)

There’s new ownership at a Baltimore company that made headlines in recent years with a test to determine whether blue crab carrying the Atlantic label is legit.
InstantLabs received a controlling investment from Angeon Group, a D.C.-based firm that helps growth-stage companies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The company makes a molecular diagnostic testing device that can be used by companies to test at the DNA level. Known as “The Hunter,” the device is a portable unit that analyzes chemicals in real-time, and has a touchscreen.
In the case of the blue crab test, companies wanted to use InstantLabs’ test to address the problem of mislabelling, which is a big issue in the seafood world.
InstantLabs President Neil Sharma said the company also has tests for food safety that can detect diseases like E. coli and Salmonella. The company also makes a test for the tiny microbes that cause corrosion, which is currently used in oil and gas. Sharma said the company sees other uses such as marine transport and water treatment.
The eight-year-old company is based at bwtech@UMBC, where a team of about a dozen full-and-part-time workers have been developing the tests. Sharma said the company is ready to ramp up growth, which will include hiring in sales.
“We were at a point where we were ready to go to the next level, and build up the sales and marketing side,” Sharma said.
With the deal, Angeon Group’s Joseph E. Gargan will become the CEO of InstantLabs. Previous CEO Steven Guterman remains on the company’s board of directors.

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