Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Eco BioTraps: Prasad Phadke’s Mosquito Solution

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In this interview, we look into the journey of Prasad Phadke, the founder of Eco BioTraps. His mission is to combat mosquito-borne diseases while championing environmental sustainability. With a background in leadership roles at tech giants like Autodesk, HP, and NVIDIA, Prasad’s experience has been instrumental in shaping Eco BioTraps into a force for positive change. We’ll discuss what inspired him to start Eco BioTraps, how they work, and their impact on public health.

The interview also explores their recent CNN News 18 documentary, the ease of deploying Eco BioTraps in local communities, and their biodegradability. Prasad reveals their long-term goals, emphasizing disease surveillance, global expansion, and the challenges they faced during development. Join us for a conversation with a leader who is not only saving lives but also making the world a greener, safer place with “Zero Electricity, Zero Batteries, and Zero Recharging.”

An introduction about the founder and the background

Prasad Phadke’s extensive experience in leadership roles with global technology brands has profoundly influenced the development and growth of Eco BioTraps. With over 20 years of expertise in building global brands like 3Dlabs, Autodesk, NVIDIA, and Hewlett Packard in South Asia and the Americas, Prasad brought a wealth of knowledge and strategic acumen to Eco BioTraps.

His track record of creating impactful experiences for brands and scaling successful businesses in both technology hardware and software sectors has provided a strong foundation for Eco BioTraps. His ability to build relationships with influential figures and his recognition by organizations like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FICCI) and CMO Asia signify his influence and credibility in the industry.

By founding EcoBio Inc as a for-profit social enterprise, Prasad harnessed his leadership skills and industry insights to tackle significant public health challenges. His background in technology and marketing has likely informed the innovative strategies employed by Eco BioTraps, ensuring that the venture not only develops groundbreaking solutions but also effectively markets and scales its impact. Prasad’s unique blend of leadership, relationship-building, and strategic vision has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in shaping Eco BioTraps into a socially impactful and globally recognized initiative, saving lives from mosquito-borne diseases.

What inspired you to start EcoBio and develop Eco Biotraps to address mosquito-borne diseases?

The inspiration and motivation behind founding Eco BioTraps (EBT) can be traced back to the summer of 2017 when Prasad Phadke, after quitting his corporate job, embarked on a venture to address a significant public health concern. Fueled by a keen awareness of the persistent issue of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, and chikungunya, Prasad collaborated with scientists and like-minded individuals to develop a solution. The pivotal moment occurred while sitting at a restaurant in San Francisco, where they observed a high prevalence of mosquitoes despite advancements in science and technology. Additionally, reports of West Nile virus cases in the area highlighted the urgency of finding an innovative and sustainable solution.

Recognizing the need for a method to break the chain of mosquito-borne diseases, Prasad and his team set out to create a device specifically tailored for tropical regions, where these diseases are rampant. They aimed to bridge a clear gap in the market by innovating and building a biodegradable device that could effectively reduce mosquito populations. The goal was to develop a sustainable way to disrupt the breeding cycle of mosquitoes, thereby curbing the incidence of diseases they carry.

After two years of intensive research and collaboration with renowned entomologists, Eco BioTraps (EBT) was born. EBT is a population reduction device designed to break the chain of mosquito breeding and prevent diseases like dengue, malaria, chikungunya, zika, and other vector-borne illnesses. The device’s development was not only grounded in scientific rigor but also gained validation from some of the world’s top entomologists, including Dr. Susanta Kumar Ghosh, former head of ICMR; Dr. Subhash Salunk, an ICMR member; Dr. Neeraj Dhingra, former Director of National Vector-borne Diseases Control Program; and Dr. Altaf Lal, the Director of Malaria Elimination Demonstration Project Board Member.

Officially incorporated in July 2019 under the EcoBio Group, Eco BioTraps has presence in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and manufacturing in Pune. The innovative approach of Eco BioTraps not only addresses the immediate problem of mosquito-borne diseases but also reflects a pioneering effort to create a sustainable and biodegradable solution, making significant strides in public health and environmental conservation.

How do Eco Biotraps work to break the chain of mosquito breeding?

Eco BioTraps (EBT) operate on a sophisticated yet simple mechanism, designed to specifically target female mosquitoes, which are responsible for transmitting diseases to humans.

Understanding the mosquito’s life cycle was crucial in developing an effective solution. Female mosquitoes have a short lifespan of 15 to 30 days and breed only in water, laying around 500-1,000 eggs in their lifetime. Effectively 1 mosquito bite results in creation of 31 million Mosquitoes. The rate at which mosquitoes multiply beats covid hands down and when you have such a massive multiplier, the covid  science taught us that you need to Break-The-Chain of the multiplication, in case mosquitoes figure a way out to Break-The -Chain of mosquito breeding. The current proactive solutions either i) repel the mosquitoes away (shifting the problem) or kill the adult mosquitoes without assuring if you have killed the male or female. There is no solution that proactively breaks the chain of mosquito breeding ( their multiplication factor) and EBT plugs this gap by mimicking the ideal breeding ground for female mosquitoes and ensuring that once the eggs are laid, no adults emerge.

The key components of Eco BioTraps are as follows:        

Biodegradable Container:

EBT utilizes biodegradable containers made from recycled corrugated boxes, commonly used in the packaging industry. These containers are designed to hold water for 4-6 weeks, after which they become ineffective. It operate within an area of 400 sq feet, and is 70% cheaper than all the products in the market.

Natural Attractant:

EBT uses a proprietary natural attractant, derived from plant-based animal food. The exact details are kept confidential for proprietary reasons. This attractant lures female mosquitoes to lay their eggs in the container, believing it to be an ideal breeding site.

Cidal Ingredient:

A Govt of India approved, industry-standard household insecticide Insect growth regulators (IGRs) is used as the cidal ingredient. These IGRs disrupt the development of mosquitoes, preventing the emergence of adult mosquitoes from eggs,thereby breaking-the-chain of mosquito breeding.

How EBT Works:

Just add water to the EBT, set it directly away from sunlight and forget it. Replace after every 4 weeks.

Distinctive Features and Advantages:

100% Biodegradable

No Fumes

No Electricity

No Batteries or recharging

What sets Eco Biotraps apart from other vector management tools and their contribution to public health?

The current products available in the marketplace repel mosquitoes  – make them run away only for them to come back. Current repellent products may emit fumes that might be hazardous to health. Fogging is an eyewash, and it does not work. EBT is very different from these products.

EBT is made by  recycling corrugated boxes. The containers can hold water for a limited period, after which they become ineffective. The water inside the traps is non-toxic and can be safely discarded without any special processing. EBT uses a proprietary natural attractant, derived from plant-based animal food. The exact details are kept confidential for proprietary reasons. Once its shelf life comes to an end after four to six weeks (marked by water leakage), the used unit of EBT should be treated as dry waste and recycled accordingly.

EBT is the only device on the planet that is made from waste to save lives.

Tell us about the impact and key takeaways from the CNN News 18 documentary on Eco Biotraps

The media coverage, especially the exclusive documentary on CNN NEWS 18’s Changemakers series, has significantly boosted Eco BioTraps’ visibility and recognition. Here are some key takeaways and achievements from these media appearances and their impact on the venture’s mission:

Increased Recognition

The coverage on CNN NEWS 18’s Changemakers series provided Eco BioTraps with a platform to showcase their innovative solution to a global audience. This exposure increased the venture’s recognition, not only locally but also internationally, highlighting the effectiveness of their approach in controlling mosquito-borne diseases.

Highlighting Impressive Outcomes

The documentary featured the successful deployment of Eco BioTraps in Dharavi, Mumbai, one of the world’s largest slums. By partnering with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the ICICI Foundation, Eco BioTraps demonstrated impressive outcomes in this challenging environment. The media coverage effectively highlighted these results, emphasizing the real impact of their solution on communities facing mosquito-related health issues.

Raising Awareness

Media exposure not only showcased Eco BioTraps but also shed light on the widespread issue of mosquito-borne diseases. By bringing attention to the problem of the mosquito menace, these media appearances contributed to raising awareness about the urgent need for innovative and sustainable mosquito control methods, especially in densely populated areas like slums.

Revolutionizing Mosquito Control

The media coverage reinforced Eco BioTraps’ position as a revolutionary solution in mosquito control. Being the world’s first 100% biodegradable mosquito trap that effectively breaks the chain of mosquito breeding, Eco BioTraps gained credibility and trust among the audience. This recognition as an eco-friendly and highly efficient solution furthered the venture’s reputation and impact.

Partnership Promotion

The media appearances not only highlighted Eco BioTraps but also showcased the collaborative efforts with organizations like the BMC and the ICICI Foundation. This emphasized the importance of partnerships in addressing public health challenges, showcasing the potential for collective action in solving complex issues.

In summary, the media coverage, especially the exclusive documentary on CNN NEWS 18’s Changemakers series, provided Eco BioTraps with a significant platform to amplify their mission. By showcasing their innovative approach, impressive outcomes, and the urgent need for solutions in densely populated areas, these media appearances played a crucial role in raising awareness, increasing recognition, and reinforcing the impact of Eco BioTraps’ mission in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

How can local communities and leaders easily deploy Eco Biotraps for mosquito control?

EBT’s are very easy to deploy and need zero training, no fuel, no capital expenditure and only  once a month replacement. Just place EBTs directly away from sunlight and add water to the device . Replace every 4 weeks. Ease of use , no fuel and no capital expenditure are the USP’s why communities can readily deploy it without trained man power.

How do Eco Biotraps ensure safety for children and pets?

No toxic chemicals are used in EBT and the product is 100% safe for animals and humans. Biotraps are designed to be safe for children and pets. They are absolutely free of toxicity. Our proprietary solution is backed strongly by science. Additionally, there is a net provided for hanging that acts as a barrier/deterrent  for domestic pets and birds .

Share insights into the environmental impact of Eco Biotraps and their biodegradability.

Eco BioTraps focuses on recycling waste, specifically corrugated boxes, to create biodegradable traps designed to disrupt the breeding cycle of mosquitoes. By doing so, they actively contribute to environmental sustainability. Simultaneously, their innovative traps help prevent mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue and Malaria, promoting public health. This dual approach of waste recycling and disease prevention embodies their social impact goals, making a positive difference in both environmental conservation and community well-being.

Till date EBT have protected 944,000 lives, reduced carbon offset by 170 metric tonnes and diverted 70 sq feet of landfill. Each EBT unit lasts for 4 weeks, is effective up to 400 sq feet, and 70% cheaper than all the products in the market.

Can you explain the significance of Eco Biotraps being patented in over 50 countries?

This gives us, a “Made in India” product, a global reach, we can sell this product all over the world.

What are your long-term goals and vision for EcoBio and mosquito control?

While the company has focused on eliminating the mosquito problem at the root by ‘Breaking the Chain’ and preventing the breeding cycle of female mosquitoes, in the future it plans to carry out disease surveillance too. Disease surveillance in this context would mean identifying and targeting ‘mosquito hotspots’ around the world so that diseases like dengue, malaria and zika can be promptly averted before they become epidemics that claim millions of human lives.

EBT is poised for significant expansion in the middle of the next year, targeting three international locations in South and Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Nepal, and China. This strategic move marks a pivotal step in EBT’s global growth journey, enhancing its presence and impact in key markets across the region.

How has your past experience with companies like Autodesk, HP, and NVIDIA influenced EcoBio’s success?

These were business of scale, massive scale. Building something from ground’s up (zero) to multi million dollars. NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has a tremendous influence on Prasad. Ethos like “Intellectual Honesty “ and “Directness and Candor” are the same pillars that NVIDIA was built on and the same pillars which EcoBio is being built on.

What challenges have you faced in developing and promoting Eco Biotraps?

The crux was to find a material that holds water for 4-6 weeks and is made from waste.

Could you talk about any partnerships and collaborations that support your mission?

Eco BioTraps has been working closely with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Dharavi, Mumbai, one of the world’s largest slums. In partnership with the ICICI Foundation, Eco BioTraps have been deployed in this challenging environment, resulting in impressive outcomes.

Eco Biotraps is also a registered incubatee at SMILE ( BMC’s Incubator) .

-BioTraps were 7 times more successful than the control traps in attracting gravid female mosquitoes.

-BioTraps were 100% effective in preventing the hatching of eggs for 8 weeks.

Available through Rentokil PCI at 18002122125, EBT has been made available  in 1000 locations across 300 districts and 22 states. Various prestigious establishments, including Marquee Hotels, Hospitals, Residential Societies, Defense establishments, Schools, Educational institutions, IT Parks, and Manufacturing Companies, have opted for year-long contracts with EBT. The company is committed to delivering customized, top-notch solutions, guaranteeing a secure and pest-free environment for all their clients. EBT is also available on Amazon.

What advice would you give to those passionate about public health and environmental sustainability?

Look at the current AQI levels that we’re dealing with, while Mumbai and Delhi are in the BIG RED, other cities are not far behind. Mitigating Climate Change issues with public health , in a safe and sustainable way is the future and only innovation can solve it. Remember, if we have to achieve something that has not been achieved before, then you have to do things that have never been done before ( innovation – frugal innovation, if you will).

Prasad Phadke’s journey with Eco BioTraps showcases the power of innovation and determination in addressing pressing public health challenges and environmental sustainability. His extensive experience and visionary approach have propelled Eco BioTraps to the forefront of mosquito control, breaking the breeding chain and making a significant impact on communities. With a focus on expanding their reach and continuously innovating, Prasad and Eco BioTraps are leading the charge towards a world where mosquito-borne diseases are curtailed, and environmental conservation takes center stage. Their commitment to “Zero Electricity, Zero Batteries, and Zero Recharging” demonstrates a sustainable and effective path forward in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

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