Colorado State University Startup OptiEnz Names President, Unveils Prototype

Note to Reporters: A photo of Chris Thompson is available with the news release at

Chris Thompson, a former director of Enterprise Systems at Advanced Energy Industries and Colorado State University alumnus, has been named president of OptiEnz Sensors LLC, a university startup that is developing biosensors for detecting food and water contaminants.

“Chris is a great addition to our team – his expertise will be valuable with getting this technology out of the laboratory and into commercial production,” said Ken Reardon, a Colorado State professor of chemical and biological engineering who co-founded OptiEnz.

Reardon formed OptiEnz in tandem with Cenergy, the university’s vehicle for commercializing innovative clean and renewable technologies. OptiEnz is expected to develop, manufacture and sell the biosensors, which rely on the reaction of cultured enzymes to identify and quantify organic chemicals. With these devices, contaminants such as melamine, gasoline, solvents and nerve agents can be continuously measured in real-time without handling or pretreating a sample in any way. The biosensors can also be used to monitor chemicals in industrial processes, including those for food, beverage and biofuel production.

Hiring a president is just one of many next steps for the company, which this summer developed an early-stage, commercial prototype that can accommodate as many as eight biosensors to concurrently measure different chemicals, said Tim Reeser, director of Cenergy.

“We’ve reached an important stage for the company,” Reeser said. “We needed someone at the helm with the leadership, reputation and broad skill set that Chris brings to further develop relationships and partnerships as well as ensure that we strategically target the best markets for our sensors to make immediate impact.”

Thompson graduated from the College of Business at Colorado State in 1987 and joined Advanced Energy Industries in Fort Collins, eventually reporting to the president as manager of Telecommunication and Information Systems until 1998. Prior to returning to work with AEI again in 2007 as director, Enterprise Systems, he worked as director, Information Services for Recycling Industries before joining Convergent Communications as the director of Network and Operations Support Systems. In 2001, he worked as director of Information Technology for Group Publishing before forming his own consulting company, Early Light Holdings Ltd., in 2005.

His consulting experience also included working with the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nev., to serving as a program manager with Noble Energy and as a chief executive officer of First Opportunity Solutions in Hong Kong.

Thompson said his initial focus is to explore joint development partnerships and accredited investor relationships.

“We are actively engaging with industry leaders, key equipment manufacturers and a select group of investors who are as energized as we are to see this seminal biotechnology research reach the people of the world,” Thompson said. “For the first time in history, we can, in real-time, measure chemicals as diverse as oil and gas in the ocean to solvents and fracking solution in groundwater to sugars and alcohols in a biofuel process.”