- Eloise Barclay
Nature Inspired Nanotech to Combat Global Hygiene — Spyke’s Story
What do Cicadas and hand sanitiser have in common? They both possess antibacterial properties! It was this discovery by a leading Australian university that inspired the creation of Spyke at Startup Weekend NextGen.
Spyke is a creative tech startup that aims to combat hygiene and sanitation on a global scale. The product is a printed film composed of ‘nano-spikes’ that can be placed on surfaces, like doorhandles and tables, to kill bacteria upon contact. Given today’s circumstances, the dire need for a company like Spyke could not be more evident. We sat down with co-founder, Isaac Tucker, to understand a bit more behind the “Cicada” concept, their Startup Weekend experience and their next steps as a business.
How did you come up with the concept of Spyke?
"The idea of Spyke stemmed from a 2015 research paper published by a leading Australian university. In this paper, they found that cicada wings are antibacterial — and not just because they are coated in antibiotics. They are actually antibacterial because of their shape at a nano level which is much, much smaller to the naked eye. This has generated interest from across the globe, but has yet to see any widespread use due to difficulties in producing it en-mass. Hence, this was the problem we aimed to solve. Throughout the weekend the Spyke team devised a way of producing that would enable it to be produced at a larger scale. That is what sets us apart."
How did you find your Startup Weekend NextGen experience?
"The Startup Weekend experience was nothing short of incredible. Meeting a collection of like-minded individuals who are not only hungry to solve problems, but also truly make a difference was awe-inspiring. The team who hosted and curated the event should be praised for their effort, ingenuity and skill at delivering these events."
What was your favourite part?
"Aside from connecting with an amazing team, seeing the world from someone else’s point of view. Oftentimes, researchers and business-people alike address startups by giving advice in hindsight — which is useful to know and understand, but ultimately doesn’t change the past. Being there when the problems actually arise and getting into that mindset was a real eye-opener."
What does winning mean to you and your team?
"When I initially came to the weekend I didn’t expect or want to win, I really just wanted to see this amazing piece of research transition from concept to reality. Winning this shows that people believe in both the idea and the team behind it. Without the diversity of backgrounds and ideas that came from creating a team in this environment, it is unlikely this would have been the case."
It’s rather topical given today’s circumstances, what impact do you think Spyke has on the future?
"Ideally, change the way we think about disease prevention. This has the potential to save millions of lives — both now, and in the future. This technology is far from a cure-all, but it is a positive step in the right direction and we hope to have sparked interest in the wider population around this important issue."
What do you think the NextGen of entrepreneurs can learn from our current situation?
"This weekend has highlighted 2 things; 1. Nothing happens without a team, and 2. Difficult problems require creative solutions. The NextGen of entrepreneurs should endeavour to understand that the paradigm is shifting from lone-wolf operators who are controlled by their idea, to receptive teams who are willing to learn and adapt rapidly to the changing world around us."
Can we expect to see anything from Spyke soon?
"While we would love to have something on the shelf tomorrow, due to the nature of the technology we might be a little away from that. Rest assured that the team behind it are invested in the technology and outcome — to change the world."
How can we help?
"We have already received a number of generous offers to help get this off the ground. To take this further, we really need to finalise our Intellectual Property position through discussions with professionals and validate our harmonised production process to ensure that we can deliver."
If you would like to get in touch with the team at Spyke feel free to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
In March 2020, CEA and QUT Entrepreneurship delivered one of Australia’s largest student Startup Weekend’s, the focus of which was NextGen. NextGen empowered participants to create the future they want to live in by embracing technology and innovation, and tackling global challenges with creativity, agility, resilience and empathy. Spyke were the winners of Startup Weekend NextGen, with CatchCalls placing second and Valoo with Runner Up. Stay tuned as we explore and profile Australian founders, startups and SMEs at the frontier of innovation.