Hazel Analytics, a food safety technology company born out of cross-disciplinary University of Maryland (UMD) research in economics and computer science and funded in part by the Maryland Innovation Initiative, has been acquired by longtime partner and global sustainability leader Ecolab.
Hazel Analytics, which specializes in the use of data-driven technology solutions to improve food safety and public health, was founded in 2014 by University of Maryland Professor of Economics Ginger Jin and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science Ben Bederson, along with former UCLA colleague Phillip Leslie (now vice president and economist at Amazon) and Arash Nasibi, who led Hazel Analytics’ commercialization effort and served as CEO (now vice president of digital products at Ecolab’s EcoSure division). Hazel Analytics quickly became a global leader in food safety and technologies, and now serves more than 200 global food service and retail brands and over half of the world’s 100 largest restaurant chains.
In 2022, Hazel announced a partnership with Yelp to provide restaurant and food service hygiene data and health scores for 800,000+ restaurants on the Yelp platform.
“Hazel Analytics is the direct product of decades of university research and a testament to the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Jin. “We wanted our work to improve food safety nationwide and benefit public health overall and this agreement with Ecolab will help us achieve those goals on an even larger scale than we thought possible.”
The co-founders developed the concept for Hazel Analytics based on their research that automated the collection of local public health department data and centralized the information for monitoring. Their work, supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, produced the largest database of food safety inspection information in the United States.
“The technology we created transformed the way organizations across industries use data to proactively monitor food safety and regulatory compliance, and makes it easier for both food service providers and customers to ensure what they’re serving and eating is safe,” Bederson said.
Hazel Analytics grew out of UMD's innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, with critical support from UM Ventures to help them with IP, licensing agreements, startup advising, and winning two phases of TEDCO Maryland Innovation Initiative funding. Hazel Analytics is also an example of how UMD startups can meaningfully contribute both economic impact and social impact in the region and worldwide.
The company’s partnership with Ecolab began in 2017, when it became Ecolab’s exclusive worldwide partner for health department technology. Following the recent acquisition, Hazel will now operate within Ecolab’s EcoSure division specializing in brand protection and risk management.
To learn more about Hazel Analytics, visit hazelanalytics.com/about/.
To learn more about EcoSure, visit ecolab.com/about/our-businesses/ecosure/.
To learn more about how UMD helps research-based startups, visit http://startupguide.umd.edu.