R-Zero, a biosafety company that makes an IoT-connected UV-C system, announced this week it had raised $15 million in fresh funding. The round was led by DBL Partners with participation from Bedrock Capital and HAX/SOSV. R-Zero says the new funds will allow the company to ramp up production and deployment of its germicidal UV device, called Arc, and get it into a wider variety of locations including restaurants.
UV-C technology has been in use for over 100 years as a way to disinfect air, water, and surfaces. Historically, the tech been the territory of hospitals, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now making its way outside of clinical settings and into public spaces that at some point in the future could include everything from schools to restaurants to subway cars.
R-Zero, a company actually founded in the midst of the pandemic, is contributing to this development with its hospital-grade Arc device it says can destroy “over 99.99% of pathogens,” including human coronavirus, in a 1,000-square-foot space in under seven minutes.
The portable device is about 6.5 feet high and equipped with BLE, LTE, and GPS connectivity, allowing users to track and monitor the device remotely via a smartphone — an important point, since UV-C is known to cause skin and eye damage and staff should ideally be out of the room before Arc kicks into its disinfecting cycle. Users can monitor the cycle via their phone and know when it is safe to re-enter the room. The company says in its FAQs that Arc should only be used in unoccupied rooms.
R-Zero’s fundraise comes at the right time. As one panelist noted during this year’s Smart Kitchen Summit, cleanliness and sanitization in restaurants is now “table stakes” for businesses, not to mention a major priority for customers. And while many restaurants remain closed or operating at reduced capacity, this emphasis on sanitization isn’t likely to dwindle, even after the pandemic subsides.
Bringing hospital-grade UV-C tech to local businesses is a relatively new concept, but R-Zero isn’t completely alone in the space. Veteran LED makes germicidal UV-C devices that are in some restaurants currently. Clean Air Systems is another such company. The latter says its technology can “kill 99.99% of Sars-COV2” and other airborne pathogens.
R-Zero is currently in a number of U.S. restaurants, including Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and restaurants under the Acme Hospitality group.