Start-up funds for toxic gas detector

Photonic Innovations chief executive Dr Ojas Mahapatra says his company's technology has the potential to deliver increased accuracy in toxic gas detection. Photo supplied.
Photonic Innovations chief executive Dr Ojas Mahapatra says his company's technology has the potential to deliver increased accuracy in toxic gas detection. Photo supplied.
A start-up company, which aims to commercialise novel gas detection technology, has secured funding thanks to a new partnership between Dunedin's Upstart business incubator and Christchurch-based seed fund investor powerHouse Ventures Ltd.

Although Photonic Innovations chief executive Dr Ojas Mahapatra could not reveal the exact sum, the partnership allowed for three or more local technology-based businesses each year to receive six-figure sums in early stage investment funding.

The company hoped to commercialise technology that was developed by Prof Andrew Wilson's research group at the Jack Dodd Centre for Quantum Technology and department of physics at the University of Otago.

The technology could deliver increased accuracy and confidence in toxic gas detection at a reduced ''whole life'' cost, Dr Mahapatra said.

The funding would ensure the recruitment of technical specialists and other staff for the company, he said.

PowerHouse managing partner Stephen Hampson was confident his company's investment in the business would pay dividends, not only for investors but also the South Island's high-tech industry.

Detection of hazardous gases in an industrial environment was a legal requirement to safeguard employees.

Gas detection systems were used commonly in various industries such as oil and gas, mining petrochemicals, steel plants, utilities and wineries and the gas detection market was estimated to be worth $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 complements Upstart's incubation capabilities,'' Dr Hampson said.

Upstart chief executive Steve Silvey said Photonic Innovations was a great example of local research that needed the boost of seed stage funding to develop a saleable product.

It was encouraging that the funding would ''translate swiftly'' into jobs in the region.

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