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What the Color Blue Can Reveal About Pathogens and Contamination:The pace of progress in global health is determined by our ability to seed, nurture and spread innovation. Through Grand Challenges for Development, USAID uncovers promising ideas and applies rigorous, market-oriented approaches to cut the time it takes to transform ideas in a lab to impact on the ground.

In the midst of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, Columbia University juniors Katherine Jin, Jason Kang and Kevin Tyan participated in the Columbia Ebola Design Challenge to see if they could find a way to contribute to the global community’s response to the epidemic in West Africa. In answer to the Design Challenge, they developed a powder that adds color to bleach to increase its effectiveness as a decontaminant and ensure the safety of health care workers in places affected by infectious disease outbreaks.

The innovation was an early formulation of the team’s potentially life-saving product known as Highlight, which would become the core product of their soon-to-be launched company, Kinnos Inc.

Highlight was subsequently selected, from over 1,500 ideas, as one of 14 winners of USAID’s Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge. Through this grant, the Kinnos team has conducted intensive testing of Highlight to ensure its readiness for production and field deployment.

“As juniors in college, none of us were that knowledgeable about Ebola or even about global health issues. After learning more details about the response to challenges confronting health care workers, we concluded that ineffective decontamination was toward the top of the list,” says Jin.

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What the Color Blue Can Reveal About Pathogens and Contamination:The pace of progress in global health is determined by our ability to seed, nurture and spread innovation. Through Grand Challenges for Development, USAID uncovers promising ideas and applies rigorous, market-oriented approaches to cut the time it takes to transform ideas in a lab to impact on the ground.