- Colleen Costello, 25
When Colleen Costello was a junior at Rochester Polytechnic Institute in 2011, her grandmother was admitted to the hospital after she slipped and fell. "She was supposed to stay overnight, but the next morning we were told that she had a MRSA infection. She ended up staying for over a week," says Costello. "I naively assumed that people get better when they go into a health care facility." According to the CDC, one in 25 patients gets a health care-associated infection every day. MRSA is a particularly nasty type of infection because its bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics. A biomedical engineering major, Costello approached her friend James Peterson, a mechanical engineering student. Together, they began exploring ways to prevent infection by disinfecting health care facilities (Paterson is no longer with the company). The solution: a new kind of LED white light that disinfects indoor spaces by attacking a molecule specific to bacteria, mold, and fungi. Unlike the disinfecting UV light traditionally used in hospitals, Vital Vio's lights can be left on all the time, because they cause no harm to humans.
Note: All data as of 1/31/16