Kinnos: This Company Helps Prevent The Spread Of Surface-Borne Pathogens In A $30+ Billion Market

By Amit Chowdhry • Jun 30, 2023

Kinnos is a company that was founded during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and is pioneering ways to more optimally employ proven disinfectants for a safer healing environment amidst a rising tide of infections around the world. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Kinnos co-founder and chief innovation officer Jason Kang to learn more about the company. 

Jason Kang’s Background

Jason Kang

Kang has always loved healthcare and science. “I spent my high school summers conducting research in biology labs and subsequently studied Biomedical Engineering at Columbia. My career began in global health, helping a medtech start-up bring a medical device to clinical trials in Bangladesh. I’ve really enjoyed the journey at Kinnos originating with battling infectious disease outbreaks in low-resource settings to now helping create safer environments of care for patients and staff alike,” said Kang.

Formation Of Kinnos

How did the idea for Kinnos come together? “Participating in the response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2015, we learned that healthcare workers were missing many spots when disinfecting their HazMat suits, equipment, and facilities due to the transparent nature of disinfectants. Compared to the general population, the higher risk of exposure led to a 31x higher infection rate for frontline staff. This was the ‘aha’ moment that sparked the idea behind colorized disinfection,” Kang shared. “We created Highlight as a colorizing technology that is added to commercially available disinfectants, making it easy to see what’s been cleaned and how well. Over time, we’ve evolved our focus from global health to the U.S. healthcare system, where research shows more than half of all high-touch surfaces are inadequately cleaned. That can lead to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which – according to the CDC –  affect one out of every 31 patients, cause 72,000 deaths, and lead to billions of dollars in direct costs every year. HAIs mean patients are actually getting sicker by going into a hospital and coming away with an infection or illness they didn’t originally possess.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Kang’s favorite memory working for Kinnos so far? “For me, it’s always been about the human impact. I’ll always remember our first trip to Liberia, where we deployed Highlight with healthcare workers at an Ebola Treatment Unit, and heard them tell us how much safer it made them feel. That was the moment it really solidified for me that we were working on something truly important. Since then, there have been so many more amazing moments, like getting feedback from patients about how Highlight gives them peace of mind or from environmental services workers on how it gives them confidence in their work,” Kang reflected.

Challenges Faced

What are some of the challenges Kang faced in building the company and has the current macroeconomic climate had any effect on the company? “We’ve learned a lot over the years. A big lesson was around focus and learning how to say no to various opportunities. As we gained more insight into the market and the need, we narrowed our focus to build a product portfolio targeted at North American hospitals.. We also raised a new round of funds, brought on investors and advisors, and revamped our leadership team to tailor our work for this targeted market. If anything, today’s environment has been highly conducive to our work. While hospitals and others are being more budget-aware, the rise of multi-drug resistant organisms, the stalled progress against HAIs during the COVID pandemic, and other emerging pathogen threats have all amped up the urgency around infection prevention standards,” Kang acknowledged. “At the same time, hospitals know they must do better on behalf of their workers – turnover and fatigue are leading to high rates of attrition for nurses and frontline staff responsible for cleaning rooms. We’ve found that not only does Highlight help provide visibility to the disinfection process, but it also helps provide visibility to the people behind the disinfection.  Environmental services workers are often overlooked and underappreciated for their important role in patient safety, and empowering them with a visual tool like Highlight helps bring recognition to their hard work.”

Core Products

What are Kinnos’ core products and features? “Highlight is a colorizing technology for mission-critical disinfectants. Together, they help prevent the spread of surface-borne pathogens to patients, families, and staff. Recognized by the World Health Organization, Highlight temporarily colors disinfectant wipes and cleaning solutions that hospitals already use to provide staff with an instantaneous visual cue to improve the quality of their work. In a peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Infection Prevention last year, Highlight was found to measurably improve cleaning quality metrics by as much as 70%,” Kang explained. “In the case of disinfectant wipes, Highlight’s blue color is added to the wipe through a unique dispensing device that attaches to the top of wipe canisters (you can think of the Highlight device as a printer and the disinfectant wipes as the paper). As a button is pushed, wipes are dispensed through the device with a layer of blue color printed onto them. The colorized wipes leave behind a blue trace on the surface to  clearly indicate coverage and then fade away in minutes.”

Evolution Of Kinnos’ Technology

How has Kinnos’ technology evolved since launching? “Our technology has evolved around our mission of empowering people with colorization technologies to create a safer world and provide society with peace of mind through disinfection you can see. Our goal has always been to make Highlight a simple, seamless part of existing workflows and cleaning processes. If the technology required a process change or additions to the supply chain like many other new machine-based cleaning products, we knew it would never become the transformational innovation we envisioned,” Kang pointed out. “Despite the simplicity of Highlight’s concept (color and color-fading), the chemistry is surprisingly complex. Disinfectants have different concentrations or types of active ingredients, their own unique blend of inert ingredients, are buffered across a range of pHs, vary in solubility, and are impregnated onto different-sized wipes or wipe substrates. We have worked through and successfully overcome the challenges of having Highlight appear dark enough on differently colored surfaces across diverse material types and enable the color-fading reaction to work across the spectrum of ready-to-use disinfectant wipes. It has taken years to make that vision of Highlight a reality with dozens of patents issued. Looking ahead, we firmly believe Highlight will become the gold standard of manual cleaning in hospitals and then eventually something that touches the lives of every single person on the planet as a fundamental aspect of surface cleaning.”

Most Significant Milestones

What have been some of Kinnos’ most significant milestones? “Some of our most notable milestones over the last two years include: launching our hospital-grade product, securing our first lighthouse customers, publishing peer-reviewed data showing the technology quantifiably improves thoroughness of cleaning, and expanding our product platform to increase our footprint across healthcare use cases. Late last year, we recruited a veteran industry leader as the company’s new CEO to help take our creation to every hospital, and household, around the world,” Kang replied.

Customer Success Stories

When I asked Kang about a customer success story, he cited Hackensack Meridian Health. “We’ve had great success with our early hospital customers. The study with Hackensack Meridian Health that found Highlight improves cleaning quality metrics by as much as 70% is one important example. Recently, Fraser Health – the second largest health system in Canada – rolled out Highlight across its hospitals system-wide as their standard of care. Early results have shown improvement in containing outbreaks this past winter as compared to prior winters, which their infection prevention team has attributed to enhanced cleaning efforts. We’re working with the system now to present those findings at an upcoming industry conference,” Kang revealed.


In early May, the company raised $15 million in funding from a range of current and new investors, including family offices and funds. The current and new investors include family offices and funds like Pioneer Healthcare Partners, Kapor Center, and Partnership Fund for NYC and former industry leaders from Abbott, Baxalta, Baxter, Bayer, Becton Dickinson, Cantel, Ecolab, Intermountain Healthcare, NorthShore University HealthSystem, and Walgreens, among others.

“Kinnos sells its patented Highlight colorizing technology directly to hospitals. For those that use our wipe colorization technology, hospitals purchase the dispensers and resupplies of cartridges, much like a consumer buys a printer and ink cartridges,” replied Kang when I asked about how the company generates its revenue.

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is Kinnos pursuing? “Kinnos is disrupting the $30+ billion global infection prevention industry. While today we’re primarily focused on the US and Canadian healthcare markets, eventually we anticipate Highlight will become a core element of everyday cleaning worldwide,” Kang assessed.

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates Kinnos from its competition? “Kinnos is the first company to provide a technology that improves manual cleaning without requiring hospitals or staff to change the products they use or add an extra step. There are other infection prevention innovations, like UV lights and misters, that also seek to address the problem of missed spots on surfaces, but these technologies do not replace manual cleaning and can only be used after manual cleaning is done (affecting the workflow and adding work for already overburdened staff),” Kang emphasized. “In contrast, Highlight makes the cleaning that already happens more effective by enabling workers to apply the proper technique in real-time while delivering visible peace of mind to these workers, other staff, as well as patients and their families. Integrated directly into existing ready-to-use disinfectant wipes hospitals are already using, we make it easy for hospitals to rapidly uplevel quality and compliance and remain at the top of their game.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of Kinnos’ future company goals? “We are expanding our technology platform to include compatibility with hydrogen peroxide-based wipes later this year. With this impending product launch, Kinnos will be able to improve the cleaning process across the spectrum of ready-to-use disinfectant wipes that are most commonly used in hospitals today: bleach, quaternary ammonium, and hydrogen peroxide,” Kang concluded. “Currently, Kinnos is focused on expanding our technology platform within hospitals across North America. Eventually, we believe our Highlight technology will be ubiquitous in healthcare and beyond as we help ensure the best clean possible the first time, every time. At Kinnos, we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace that serves the diverse needs of the healthcare environment.”