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New partnership means gas detection technology has a promising future

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Tuesday 17 December 2013 2:14pm

A recent partnership between Dunedin business incubator UpStart and powerHouse Ventures has got off to a good start with local startup company Photonic Innovations Ltd securing funding from powerHouse.

Photonic Innovations Ltd aims to commercialise a novel gas detection technology developed by Professor Andrew Wilson’s research group at The Jack Dodd Centre for Quantum Technology and Department of Physics.

The technology developed at University of Otago boasts of extremely high accuracy, fast response time, calibration and maintenance-free features and it virtually eliminates false alarms which is reportedly a common issue with most gas detectors currently in the market. In recent years the focus of innovation in this market has shifted towards building safer, faster and maintenance free detectors and this is Photonic Innovations' core point of difference.

Photonic’s CEO Dr Ojas Mahapatra

The funding will ensure the recruitment of technical specialists and other staff for Photonics Innovations. Photonic’s CEO Dr Ojas Mahapatra says the advantages with the technology is that it has the potential to deliver increased accuracy and confidence in toxic gas detection at a reduced whole life cost.

“The new funding and partnership with powerHouse and UpStart offers the opportunity to develop the technology further,” says Dr Mahaparta.

Stephen Hampson, Managing Partner of powerHouse, is confident that his company’s investment in the Otago-based opportunity will pay dividends not only for investors but also the high-tech industry in the South Island.

Detection of hazardous gases in an industrial environment is a legal requirement to safeguard employees. Gas detection systems are used commonly in various industries such as oil and gas, mining, petrochemicals, steel plants, utilities and wineries. With the enforcement of rigorous rules and regulations for employee safety across industries around the world, the gas detection market is set to reach a size of $3.3 billion by 2018.

“We see that the technology has great promise in playing an important role in keeping people safe in these industries. Photonics is a local company at the forefront of innovation in the gas detection industry and we are proud to help them develop by providing capital that compliments UpStart’s incubation capabilities,” says Dr Hampson.

Steve Silvey, CEO of UpStart, says that Photonic Innovations is a great example of local research that needed the boost of seed-stage funding to develop a saleable product. “It’s encouraging that this funding, raised in New Zealand, will translate swiftly into jobs in our region,” he says.

Colin Dawson, CEO of Otago Innovation Ltd. is positive about the route to market for the University of Otago research, “We have nurtured the technology with Government Pre Seed Accelerator and our own funds for some time now. It is an ideal time to have additional investment from powerHouse and support from Upstart to ensure the ongoing growth of the company,” he says.

For further information, contact

Dr Ojas Mahapatra
Photonic Innovations Ltd
Tel 64 22 642 8164

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