Portable kit named FRED uses electricity instead of chemicals to test for contaminants in water
Calgary’s David Lloyd and Emily Hicks didn’t dream they would be running a ten-person company backed by investors and a Board of Directors when they were tinkering at their mom’s kitchen table with the idea of how to treat water treatment differently. Fuelled by their passions for science – both are accomplished graduates of Bachelors of Science degrees and winners of numerous science competitions - their portable kit, aptly named FRED, is revolutionizing water treatment.
Compared to the time-intensive method of collecting water samples with chemicals, sending them to the lab, then waiting up to several weeks for the results, FRED uses electricity and can provide results in about an hour. And it requires zero training.
The idea for Lloyd and Hicks’ business FREDSense originally sprang from Hicks entering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition to find solutions to environmental issues in Alberta’s oil sands. From there, The Field Ready Electrochemical Detector (FRED) portable kit was born. Kick-started by their iGEM successes, the Calgary co-founders focused their efforts on winning competitions to help fund their now 4-year old successful business.
Having broken ground in areas like mining and environmental remediation, Lloyd and Hicks have their sights set on applying their state-of-the-art technology into any industry or country that requires access to safe drinking water.
What advice would Lloyd and Hicks give youth interested in a career in Biomedical Sciences?
“To be a good research scientist, it's not just about the grades. Get hands-on experience as early as possible”, says Hicks. “While still in high school, get involved in science programs such as Hyres, geekStarter, First Robotics and Science Fairs. In University, make sure you get as much research experience as you can. Look for volunteer or internship positions in places like labs or science-based companies. Try to find out what interests you. Biotechnology is a huge field, so figure out what it is you are passionate about”.