Startup’s product aims to not let bedbugs bite
- May 29, 2013
“Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Redcoat Solutions Inc., a Harrisonburg startup, appears to have adopted the old expression as its mission.
Redcoat Solutions develops products to detect and treat infestations by insects, including bedbugs. The company is the first spinoff of SRI Shenandoah Valley, a company established in Harrisonburg in 2006 to jumpstart the region’s biotech industry. Its parent company, SRI International, is an independent, nonprofit research institute based in Menlo Park, Calif.
Scientists at SRI Shenandoah Valley developed a rapid, sensitive test that recognizes molecules specific to bedbugs. They licensed the technology to Redcoat Solutions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes bedbugs as small, flat, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. While they don’t spread disease, the bugs can cause itching and loss of sleep. Bedbug bites affect each person differently, ranging from no signs of bites to serious allergic reactions.
Even though bedbugs typically have been encountered in developing countries, they have spread rapidly to parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other areas of Europe.
Redcoat Solutions intends to market the bedbug test under the brand name Rapid Pursuit. The company says the product requires no sophisticated equipment and registers a response in minutes. Rapid Pursuit also eliminates the need to handle or even see bedbugs because it detects the residue — or “footprints” — the bugs leave behind.
“It allows you to realize there’s a problem before anyone has seen the bedbug,” says Jared Burden, a Redcoat Solutions spokesman. “It allows you to take action at that point.”
Rapid Pursuit is being touted as effective, easy to use, affordable and more discreet than other bedbug detection products, which can require visual inspection or the use of bug-tracking dogs.
Burden says the product should be marketed this summer, first to hotel management and pest control companies. Soon after that, he says, the company will target international travelers and travel companies. “People have recognized what this product means for the industry so we feel very confident that the product is going to do very well from the time that we launch,” Burden says.