Dr. Kevin J. Knopp
CEO and Co-founder
908 Devices, Inc.
Q: Could you tell our readers about some of the solutions 908 Devices offers to the military and other government contractors?
A: Our main objective at 908 Devices is to create tools that fill capability gaps for the end-user. We recognized that while today’s first responder toolkit has advanced over the past decade, something was still missing—mass spectrometry. Until now, the powerful capabilities of mass spectrometry have been confined to centralized or mobile laboratories because of their cumbersome size, weight, fragility and complexity of use. We wanted to create a tool that would provide gold-standard chemical analysis yet be simple to use and rugged enough for the hotzone. We did just that with our flagship product, M908.
Q: What unique benefits does 908 Devices provide its customers in comparison to other companies in your field?
A: The development of high-pressure mass spectrometry (HPMS) utilizing micro-scale ion traps, unique on-board algorithms and integrated software has enabled us to put the power of mass spec into a simple-to-use and truly handheld tool. This is unprecedented. Unlike other luggable or fixed mobile lab mass spec devices, M908 is 70 times lighter (only 4.4 pounds), consumes about 100 times less power, is simple to use and is designed to MIL-Spec ruggedness standards. This is all possible because of our unique technology platform, HPMS. M908 was specifically purpose-built to fill technology gaps and meet the unmet needs of today’s response mission.
Q: What are some interesting new programs or initiatives at 908 Devices?
A: We have many new programs under way, but few we can discuss publically. One example we are proud to share is our collaboration with the U.S government’s Technical Support Working Group (TSWG). This past September, they awarded us $2.6 million for further enhancement of trace explosion detection capabilities utilizing HPMS technology. With this funding, we hope to achieve even higher levels of selectivity and sensitivity with HPMS for field identification and detection of trace explosives. Our most exciting initiative this year would have to be our recent expansion across Europe and Australia. Earlier this year, we signed strategic partnership agreements with seven distributors to represent 908 Devices and bring M908 to commercial, government and military customers across 18 different countries, with further expansion into additional NATO regions planned in 2015. This is a big milestone for us. Each partner was selected based on demonstrated success serving safety and security customers within their respective territories and their deep understanding of the first responder’s mission.
Q: What are the objectives for 908 Devices in 2015 for the government market?
A: Our objective for 2015 and beyond is to get HPMS technology into the hands of first responders around the globe. This technology helps to achieve better situational understanding of what lies ahead—everything from breathing to skin hazards or worse. HPMS will take many forms over time and will be optimized and perfected to serve various missions, but this objective will remain common.
Q: How are 908 Devices solutions customized to meet the needs of the government?
A: There are over 6 billion chemicals in the world, and that number is growing every day due to the recent uptick in the creation of homemade explosives and chemical threats. From the threat of a potential chemical warfare attack or toxic industrial spills, to a clandestine laboratory interdiction and sensitive site exploitation, the ability to identify priority threats, or rule them out on the scene, makes M908 an instrumental part of the first responder toolkit. The ability to provide first responders with technology downrange that is selective and sensitive enough to alarm to the worst of the worst with low false alarm rates is a true asset.
Q: How is 908 Devices positioned in the market for expansion?
A: For us, M908 is just the beginning. We are currently working with a variety of government programs to expand HPMS applications into other product lines—whether wearable or tiny footprint desktop devices—depending on which form factor best fits the needs of the customer. To support these new developments, we plan to increase our science and engineering teams by 50 percent this year and have settled into a 16,000 square-foot, full-scale production facility in the heart of Boston’s innovation district. The new space includes a full machine shop, analytical and R&D labs, clean room, and collaborative meeting areas that allow us to create new concepts, prototypes, and manufacture product in-house. We are designing and manufacturing everything under one roof to stay actively involved in every stage of development, design verification and manufacturing quality. ♦
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- Volume: 19