Startup Showcase: Apopo HeroRATs – Detection Rats Technology for Humanitarian Purposes

Detection Rats Technology (D!RT) is a social enterprise that is dedicated to the development and implementation of detection rats technology for humanitarian purposes. Founded in 1998 in Tanzania by Bart Weetjens, the organization is committed to improving the quality of life of communities around the world by using specially trained rats to detect landmines, tuberculosis, and other hazardous substances.

In this startup showcase, we will take a closer look at Apopo HeroRATs, the detection rats technology developed by APOPO, which saves lives at the base of the pyramid (BOP) by detecting landmines and tuberculosis.

An Intriguing Solution to Humanitarian Issues

APOPO is a Belgium-based social enterprise that has trained African giant pouched rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis. These rats are specifically bred for their intelligence, trainability, and agility. They are also too light to trigger a landmine and too friendly to be considered a pest. Through a process of positive reinforcement, the rats are trained to sniff out the scent of explosives or tuberculosis bacteria in samples.

This innovative solution to humanitarian issues is effective, efficient, and affordable. Unlike traditional landmine detection methods, which are time-consuming, costly, and dangerous, Apopo HeroRATs can clear an area the size of a tennis court in just 30 minutes. And unlike traditional tuberculosis diagnosis, which can take several weeks and require specialized equipment, HeroRATs can analyze samples in just a few minutes.

Working Towards a Safer and Healthier World

APOPO has successfully deployed HeroRATs in several countries, including Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia, and Tanzania, where they have helped to clear over 100,000 landmines and detect over 14,000 cases of tuberculosis. The organization has also expanded its work to include research into new applications for HeroRATs, such as detecting other diseases and pests, as well as working with partner organizations to develop new technologies and solutions.

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In addition to its humanitarian work, APOPO is also committed to sustainability and social impact. The organization partners with local communities to provide training and employment opportunities, as well as working with local businesses to support the development of sustainable supply chains.


APOPO’s HeroRATs are a unique and effective solution to some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues. By combining cutting-edge technology with social impact and sustainability, APOPO is working towards a safer and healthier world for all. Through its work, the organization has demonstrated the power of innovation and collaboration in addressing global challenges.




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