Scott Mason was the school captain at Leaside High School in 2010 with his sights set on political science and law at Queen’s University. Little did he imagine then he would become an entrepreneur in the field of medical equipment.
But in 2014, he took part in the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative where he and three friends came up with the idea for a device to disinfect cellphones using ultraviolet light, after hearing from a neonatal intensive care nurse that new parents often disregard the ban on cellphones and take photos, despite the dangers of spreading superbugs in hospitals.
After coming second in the program’s competition, the group formed a company called CleanSlate UV and piloted the first version of their microwave oven-sized device in three hospitals. There are many benefits to using CleanSlate UV: it can destroy 99.99% of dangerous bacteria in 30 seconds; it’s easy to use; will not damage touch screens unlike chemical wipes; and works on a range of equipment.
The founding team – Scott, chief of business development, Graeme Clark, another LHS graduate and chief operating officer, Oleg Baranov, chief design officer, and Taylor Mann, chief executive officer – then travelled to New York to take part in an “accelerator program” where they received additional training and funds.
Their major breakthrough came when they were awarded a $500,000 US innovation investment by 43North, the world’s largest business pitch competition in Buffalo in 2015. Scott calls this “the catalyst that enabled the team to raise more money in order to commercialize the product and hire some key staff” with more experience than the four recent graduates. They also received a grant from Ontario Centres of Excellence in 2016.
The company now has offices here and in Buffalo, the centre of their American operations, and is partnered with the Olmsted Center for Sight, where visually impaired workers put the finishing touches on the devices manufactured in China, and service and repair them as required.
Today CleanSlate products can be found in hospitals in Toronto, Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Houston and New Zealand. In addition to cellphones and identity badges, they can disinfect hospital equipment such as stethoscopes, ultrasound transducers and ECG/EKG leads, and can be located in several departments. In food-processing plants in Mississauga, Buffalo and Auckland, they are located where staff wash their hands and are used to clean items being taken into the facility.
No surprise, the company is looking to expand sales in Canada and the U.S., and has partnered with medical equipment distributors to do so. They are also “investing in hardware tooling to create more efficient economies of scale for mass production,” Scott says.
At the age of 25, the entrepreneur is not sure what his future holds, perhaps joining a managerial consulting firm or studying medicine. But for now he’s pleased to have a CleanSlate UV.