MBS professor secures MTI grant for innovative product
The unsettling realization that people can exit a bathroom or public restroom with more germs than when they entered was the inspiration for a new product that was recently awarded a grant from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI).
Mathew Graham, assistant professor of management information systems in the Maine Business School at
the University of Maine, and his longtime friend Lado Lodoka, program director for Democracy Maine, have teamed up to bring to market a product designed to significantly improve toilet sanitation.
In 2014 while researching pollutants and air quality, Lodoka discovered that conventional toilets, especially those with pressurized rather than gravity flushing, can send germs from the water into the air. He designed and patented an innovative technology to help improve airborne germ containment using a retractable lid that fits under the seat.
In 2016, Lodoka and Graham formed the startup ECOTOS Inc. to help bring the product to market.
The two men first met in 1998 in the U.S. Army Reserves 368 Engineers Battalion in Rochester, New Hampshire. Both have careers academia: Lodoka in community development policy and practice, and Graham in business.
While most recent innovations in the smart toilet product category have been aimed at improving the look and experience, such as LED lighting, auto-flushing and self-cleaning, ECOTOS’s product will be the first to address sanitation.
Jason Harkins, associate professor of management at MBS and managing director of Scratchpad Accelerator, a startup incubator in Bangor, helped ECOTOS write the MTI proposal. The funds will be used for market discovery to test demand.
The team hopes to launch the product in spring 2020.