Nanozen’s Dr. Winnie Chu ranked among top 10 CTOs of 2021
Dr. Winnie Chu, founder and CTO of Nanozen Industries, has been chosen as one of the 10 Best CTOs of 2021 by Industry Era Magazine. Read all about Winnie’s journey in the following excerpt from the Industry Era Magazine latest edition.
Saving Lives Worldwide
Tenacity has enabled Dr. Winnie Chu to push forward and raise the bar on aerosol measurement instruments. She possesses that essential entrepreneurial quality of creative persistence when faced with obstacles. This strength proved crucial when founding a startup with extremely limited resources and a new, yet-to-be-recognized brand. Another key strength is her ability to empathize with others. Winnie’s efforts to mindfully listen to customers and understand their pain points has guided the development of Nanozen’s products and services. Her laser focus on solving critical occupational health and industrial safety challenges across multiple industries has created billion-dollar opportunities for Nanozen.
Winnie has participated on all-female entrepreneurial panels and shared her experience with local businesswomen’s groups. But more importantly, starting from her time as a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, Winnie purposefully engages with young women scientists and engineers. She mentors and trains them while providing opportunities to gain work experience and confidence as young professionals. Winnie believes that relevant, challenging work opportunities are the cornerstone of establishing a young woman’s career.
Nanozen was born from Winnie’s frustration with existing inefficient and inadequate methods of measuring inhalation levels of toxic airborne particles in industries such as mining and pharmaceuticals. Regulatory-approved methods still required companies to draw air using a pump, collect airborne hazardous materials onto a filter, and then ship the filters to an accredited lab to obtain results. As Dr. Chu explains, “Critical safety data can take anywhere from weeks to months to be determined; meanwhile, workers handling hazardous materials continue to be exposed. The lack of timely data also makes it very challenging to establish how and where exposure occurred and take effective action to prevent reoccurrence.” Nanozen’s patented technology is a perfect fit for an IIoT aerosol sensor capable of protecting workers and the community within the framework of the digital transformation of industry.
Nanozen’s specialty is its propriety personal, pocket-sized sensor that determines an individual’s aerosol exposure in real-time as they perform their daily work. Dr. Chu has recruited a talented group of specialists in spectroscopy, aerosol physics, fluidic dynamics, optics, and digital signal processing to form a strong R&D team. She explains, “Together we are building chemical-speciation aerosol spectrometers paired with artificial intelligence that are generations ahead of the competition.”
In 2018, a $400 million settlement was reached between six global mining companies and South African miners who suffered from deadly health issues due to silica inhalation on the job. Nanozen’s sensors now offer a timely, effective method of determining the concentration of silica dust in workers’ breathing zones. Ten of the top 15 global mining companies have adopted Nanozen’s DustCount 9000 to alert workers when high levels of silica dust are present. Teck Resources of Canada is one such company utilizing Nanozen’s innovative real-time dust monitoring technology to gain detailed, real-time data on dust exposure levels. Their Vice President of Health and Safety, Lawrence Watkins, commented in a press release, “This advancement in real-time particulate monitoring represents a fundamental shift for the industry and helps us improve on our commitment to protecting the long-term health of Teck employees.”
In pharmaceutical industries, where manual handling of Highly Potent Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (HPAPIs) remains part of the production and R&D process, HPAPIs pose health hazards to workers and potential cross-contamination of batches during drug production. The traditional method of sending sample filters to a lab and waiting for results is not up to the task of delivering such crucial, time sensitive information. Six of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies are now using Nanozen’s technology to better protect workers and prevent batch cross contamination. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently gave a presentation to PharmaForum 2021 on the advantage of using Nanozen’s real-time monitors to understand and determine exposure in real-time.
Winnie is not resting on her laurels. Her recent breakthrough innovation provides immediate post-shift data about specific chemicals. “The marriage of our wearable sensor with portable Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers (FTIR) to quantify exposure to specific chemicals immediately after each shift has revolutionized communication of crucial safety data and the prevention of cross contamination,” Dr. Chu says: “This novel approach has also saved millions of dollars per year for all industries involved so far.”