Innovation and technology no doubt require meticulous research. But when you add a desire to help people and the community, the results can be truly life-changing.
Look no further than Cypress Bio-Tech, a member of HKSTP’s Incu-Tech programme, which developed a mosquito repellent fabric softener with the primary intention of protecting the health of the general public.
Two years ago, the company’s founders including Stanley Poon and Dr. Michael Choi became concerned by the outbreaks of the Zika virus in Central America, as the disease posed a serious threat to human health and could lead to birth defects such as microcephaly. So, they pooled their knowledge in textiles, chemistry and advanced materials to explore innovative anti-mosquito products.
Protective fabrics deliver multiple benefits
Dr. Michael Choi, the company’s chief technology officer, says that they decided very early on to disrupt insect repellent products through textiles. They considered and tested different ideas and eventually settled on protective clothing on the grounds of reasonable cost, ease of use, high effectiveness and low toxicity.
After researching for more than a year, the MOSPRO fabric softener was born. He says that MOSPRO is used in the same way as regular fabric softener so it can be easily integrated into daily living.
Patented formula with remarkable anti-mosquito effects
The main active ingredients of MOSPRO are Permethrin and Transfluthrin, recommended by the World Health Organization for repelling mosquitoes. Both chemicals are colour- and odour-free. The former can stay effective for 30 days while the latter can release spatial repelling effects when warmed by body heat, keeping mosquitoes 15cm away from MOSPRO-treated clothing and the wearer safe from mosquito bites.
The key to achieving these results is Cypress’s proprietary formula which helps to evenly distribute the anti-mosquito ingredients on clothing, with lasting effect.
Dr. Choi says that Cypress’s patented formula ensures that the mosquito repellent ingredients are evenly distributed on clothing and won’t be washed off in the rinsing cycle. This means MOSPRO needs to have less than 1.5% of active ingredients to achieve ideal results. That is only one-tenth of the portion of regular mosquito repellents.
As well, to offset the impact of other external factors, such as sunlight, ironing and machine drying, the product has been treated with nano-spore technology to keep the active ingredients in spores, ensuring that they won’t be washed off until after several washing cycles.
Excelling in various safety and effectiveness tests
Dr. Choi says that while it took only three to four months to work out the proprietary formula, the testing and certification processes took much longer. He thinks the time was well spent as guaranteeing user safety is essential. The company has already sent MOSPRO to professional certification organisations to test its performance and side-effects.
The insect testing laboratory of the New Mexico State University has proved that clothing treated by the product can repel up to 99.7% of mosquitoes and insects. SGS Hong Kong’s textile certification process has ascertained the product is safe to use and hypoallergenic. The product also passed the toxicity and allergic reaction tests usually applied to cosmetics by the Agricultural Chemicals and Toxic Substances Research Institute of Taiwan.
Dr. Choi says that as Hong Kong doesn’t have targeted testing on such products with mixed functions, the team couldn’t find a way to promote its products using positive local test results. It could only resort to using overseas data and information.
The HKSTP ecosystem supports its R&D work
Cypress set up at Science Park in June 2018. MOSPRO was introduced to the market three months later, in September 2018, via an online store. Dr. Choi says that the Science Park laboratories and business consultation support have been most helpful for the team’s R&D and business development work.
He says that Cypress is researching different product categories and functions, including an anti-insect spray for clothing, a sunscreen mosquito repellent spray and other insect-repelling products. Furthermore, the company has also begun talking to different government departments to adopt an integrated system for urban pest control and alerts, to counter the threat of insect-born communicable diseases at source.