iGEM Dundee 2013 · ToxiMop

The Moptopus environmental sensing and detection device started life as a responsive to the needs identified from our local market demographic through a variety of market research exercises carried out by the team. The most notable was the open debate held with a panel of experts from the local community and surrounding area that provided two vital components to the project. The first was they were worried we overlooked the root cause of the algal bloom problem, and secondly they wanted to know how we planned to incorporate the biological detector into a device. The idea was then screened with a local representative of the city council, senior countryside park ranger with George Potts from Clatto reservoir and even individuals from SEPA expressed interest in finding out more regarding a working prototype and thus the Moptopus was born!

The device aims to address problems with current detection methods whilst also providing an early warning system for Algal bloom outbreaks. A key incentive for the team was to lower the cost of detection methods and increase the frequency of sampling. To ensure the Moptopus was going to be affordable and have the ability to constantly monitor the environment over long time periods we used inexpensive and easily sourced components. These have traditionally been used for development of hardware devices such as Arduino Microcontrollers and off the shelf components purchasable from small and large manufactures. This formed the basis for a prototype device that could be produced on a manufacturing scale.

We developed a direct marketing campaign using social media which enabled the team to get straight to the customers in our target market. We expanded upon this to develop a public relations and news media strategy as mainstream media. Two examples of mainstream media covered include the STV and BBC news coverage of the ToxiMop project with specific airtime for the Moptopus device. Furthermore, we launched a print and online news media campaign and target interested industry journalists such as Mathieu Stephan, a journalist from the Hackaday blog site with over 16,000 followers. Exploring these links with journalists we discovered potential pitfalls which we would need to overcome including producing a detailed model of the device and hardware specification diagrams.

The team took this advice on board and began to seek professional advice in a local incubator for start-up companies. Additionally, a product design student was recruited to create a detailed model of a new improved design with greater buoyancy, and enhanced visual aesthetics (Picture 1). A CAD model was produced as well as a physical model for the Moptopus.

Figure 1: The evolution of the Moptopus housing enviroment from left to right.

Our new product is the final, important step in the product development process, however , deciding which markets to target will be key to the success of the product ( We believe that the Moptopus and ToxiMop may be sought after by similar customers LINK: MARKET from commercialisation of the ToxiMop page). For this reason we aim to spend as much time possible developing the product to ensure it reaches its full potential. Introducing a new product into the market is a significant achievement and the Moptopus device has the potential to make this ambition a reality.