The Iranian Aria Samimi had already seen a lot of the world before he started his business on campus in Wageningen. In Germany he used insects to predict earthquakes, in Croatia he trained bees to find land mines, and in Brazil he got inspired about trees as a source of green energy. He came to Wageningen to learn more about generating electricity from plants. During his research he saw that science often fails to make an impact on people’s lives; he wanted to connect up scientists and entrepreneurs, but he couldn’t put his matchmaking plans into practice because of Covid-19. Instead, he set up his own start-up at Starthub in the Plus Ultra II building.
Samimi wants to use insects’ sense of smell to detect diseases
His company InsectSense aims to use insects’ sense of smell to detect volatile compounds associated with diseases. For instance, he wants to use honeybees to identify people with Covid-19. ‘I’m designing a technology platform that can detect various compounds,’ says Samimi.
In addition to the insects, InsectSense is also developing a chip with the olfactory receptors of insects to do the same trick. His start-up and the WUR Bioscience group have received a grant for this. InsectSense is now six months old and consists of the two co-founders and five employees and interns. ‘I like the atmosphere here on campus. Nature is a source of inspiration for me and a lot of research in Wageningen is nature-inspired.’