Xenex’s Bug-Fighting Robots Gain Traction with Hospitals

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Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA, saw the rate of hospital-acquired C. diff dropped by 53 percent after it began using the Xenex robots. The Journal of Infection Prevention reported in June that Cone Health in Greensboro, NC, saw similar levels of reduction in its rate of hospital-acquired MRSA.

Epidemiologists Mark Stribich and Julie Stachowiak, who are chief scientific officer and chief epidemiologist, respectively, were volunteering with AIDS prevention efforts in Russia when they came across xenon light being used to neutralize airborne tuberculosis.

The company beta tested its device at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which is now a customer, and briefly set up the company in Austin before the medical community and city financial incentives prompted a move to San Antonio. Other customers include hospitals at the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University as well as Boston Children’s Hospital.

Miller, a San Antonio investor and co-founder of the local cloud-computing company Rackspace, joined Xenex in January 2012. Miller also founded two firms, Sequel Ventures and Cutstone Ventures, which are both investors in Xenex. Most of Xenex’s investors are local angels.

Miller says Xenex, which currently employs 75 people, is looking to expand its customer base overseas and that it receives an average of 40 inquiries a month from foreign companies and governments. He says they have trials underway but declined to say where, adding that he expected an announcement of new business would be made by the end of the year.

Miller says the robots, which sell for $80,000, have become cherished members of the hospital staff, christened with names and given ID badges. Among the Xenex family include Violet, Ray, and the Germinator. Company spokeswoman Melinda Hart says: “We have a hospital in Shreveport that calls its two robots Allie and Gator.”

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