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Zebra Analytix

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Zebra Analytix is focused on creating game-changing analytical solutions spanning diverse, high-impact applications where rapid detection is essential: healthcare, defense, energy, environment, food safety and others. The company’s lead technology is a miniaturized gas chromatography (microGC) platform based on microelectro-mechanical (MEMS) innovation licensed from Virginia Tech.

The Problem: As the world population grows, ensuring access to life essentials—safe food, clean water, healthy air—become ever more difficult. The increasing global incidence of food recalls, contaminated water and polluted air are significant cause for concern, highlighting the need for better monitoring. During the past century, myriad separation and detection methods have been created, such as cytometry, chromatography, electrophoresis and spectroscopy. Historically, these systems have been large and very expensive benchtop instruments with limited throughput, high per-sample costs, and requiring extensive technical expertise to operate. With the advent and refinement of modern manufacturing techniques, miniaturization of a subset of these technologies has become feasible, with the goal of detecting a variety of analytes at or near the site of sample acquisition. The potential impact of these efforts, however, has been hampered by less than optimal performance in real-world settings.

The Solution: Zebra’s patent-pending microGC system comprises interchangeable chip-scale modules to provide on-the-fly flexibility defined by user-specific needs in a portable format. Components include micro pre-concentrators (to concentrate small, undetectable analyte levels into detectable levels), micro-separation columns (to separate complex samples into their constituents), and integrated sensors (to detect the sample constituents). Data are visualized via Bluetooth communication with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, allowing the user to make immediate assessments of samples without having to transport or ship them, or wait days or even weeks for results. Advantages such as speed, portability, low cost, high performance, and low power consumption greatly extend the list of applications for the technology.

Market Opportunity: The current global GC market is roughly $2.6 billion with an annual growth rate of about 6%. Due to the unique nature of the microGC product, new markets not previously approachable by traditional GC instrumentation will be addressable. Also, because of Zebra’s order of magnitude lower per instrument cost and ease-of-use, a share of the large format GC installed base may opt to deploy multiplexed microGC units to increase sample throughput.