Ogena Solutions partners with BCIC & HESIC to de-risk research and innovation

Cannabis research trial run in the CannaBunker with Gaby Torrens, Research Associate, overseeing the project

Ogena Solutions (Ogena) mission is a simple one: to safeguard animals, people, and the environment from pathogens and infectious diseases. However, to do that, Dave Hachey, President and founder of Ogena, knew he was going to need to engage technical experts to help him de-risk the commercialization process and have research to back up his product.

Dave was able to tap into the expertise of two of Research & Innovation’s specializations – Business & Commercialization (BCIC) and Horticultural & Environmental Sciences (HESIC).  

Ogena had previously been the exclusive master distributor of the Prevail(R) line of hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants for 14 years. Five years ago, Ogena invested in a company that obtained patents in over 30 countries, for an ‘emerging technology’ which uses UL2998 Certified ozone-free photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) to produce ions which aim to purify air and surfaces. PCO technology has been demonstrated to effectively inactivate molds, bacteria, and viruses.

However, the original PCO technology produces toxic levels of ozone, dangerous to both humans and animals. The novel PCO system that Ogena has invested in enables their PCO devices, such as the OgenaShield, to be used in the presence of humans and animals without facility suggested anecdotally that the product was effective in controlling microbial disease symptoms early on in crop growth. The trial target negative ion concentration was set at 500 ions/cm3. However, as the crop grew and its density increased, the efficacy of the air purifier began to decrease, and the trial ended early.

To get the full picture, Ogena first needed HESIC’s expertise to evaluate the ability of its air purifier unit “OgenaShield Air & Surface Purifier, Powered by Puraclenz” (OgenaShield) to maintain a minimum negative ion concentration of 1000 ions/cm3 during growth of a cannabis plant in an indoor controlled environment agriculture setting. In addition, they needed to monitor microbial air quality and crop health.

The concentration of ions within the CannaBunker, our fully contained indoor grow facility (which has no external environmental factors such as light, etc.), were maintained at or near the targeted 500 ions/cm3, with no observed fluctuation. This study has helped to evaluate the success of the device in the control of airborne and surface microbes in the presence of an actively growing cannabis crop.

In addition to this, since Ogena has the exclusive rights to sell the ‘OgenaShield Air & Surface Purifier’ powered by Puraclenz, the BCIC team was tasked with developing a go-to-market strategy that encompasses observing the potential size of the market, competitors, and defining their target audience.

Business strategy

To develop a strategy and understand the potential within target markets for Ogena, BCIC’s Helen Duffy, Research Lead, and her team of student research assistants and associates, worked on discovering the trends in air purification and air ionization to understand how to best put them into recommendations.

“We want to help small- and medium-sized business de-risk the commercialization process.
… We were able to help Ogena pivot towards a better market for their product, and also give him research to show some areas where they may want to steer clear of and that is very valuable in the long-term.”
– Helen Duffy, Research Lead, BCIC

This included a detailed analysis of competitors, a look at the impact of COVID-19 on the attitudes of consumers and the regulations for businesses and an exploration of market constraints.  A review of these findings allowed for the development of the target audiences and recommendations of their key pain points to develop targeted campaigns.

The promotions strategy focused on the B2B engagement points. Understanding how to tell the story of how the product can best fit into the needs of each target audience allows for cohesive campaigns. Helen’s team recommended a content planning system which incorporated the sales team’s knowledge. Additionally, a media and events strategy were outlined to reach more niche target audiences and for the salesforce to have the opportunity to talk to the unique benefits of the Ogena system as opposed to competitors.

For both HESIC and BCIC, the real outcome of these projects came down to de-risking research and innovation and making the path to commercialization easier for Dave. “Whether it was conducting the growth trial or looking at target markets, both teams were able to help Dave identify different markets,” said Christine George, Research Lead, HESIC. “By working with Niagara College, Dave was able to get important research done at a fraction of the cost had he done this privately,” she added.

“We want to help small- and medium-sized business de-risk the commercialization process,” added Helen. “Projects like these help SMEs explore new markets in a less risky way. We were able to help Ogena pivot towards a better market for their product and give him research to show some areas where they may want to steer clear of and that is very valuable in the long-term.”

“Both teams gave us suggestions and idea that we hadn’t even thought of, so we really liked working with BCIC and HESIC. They were able to provide reports to us that would have taken us way too long to do ourselves,” said Dave.

With this valuable research under his belt, Dave is now working on getting the approval from Health Canada to sell the units in Canada and the future is exciting for Ogena.

This project was made possible by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through the Applied Research and Technology Partnerships fund (ARTP).