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  • 19 Nov 2020 3:25 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Company Builds a Future on Artificial Intelligence Starting with a Platform That Reads, Writes and Reasons Like a Lawyer.

    HOUSTON – November 17, 2020 – Onit, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise workflow solutions including enterprise legal management, contract lifecycle management and workflow automation, today announced that the company has acquired McCarthyFinch and its artificial intelligence platform that accelerates contract reviews and approvals by up to 70% and increases user productivity by more than 50%.

    The acquisition reinforces Onit’s innovation strategy to deliver powerful AI-based workflow and business process automation solutions. The company plans to further its innovation through AI by evolving its product offerings as well as the software provided by its legal operations management software subsidiary SimpleLegal.

    The technology will become an integral component of Onit’s new artificial intelligence platform Precedent, and the company’s first release on the platform will be ReviewAI.

    “Our vision is to build AI into our workflow platform and every product across the Onit and SimpleLegal product portfolios,” stated Eric M. Elfman, Onit CEO and co-founder. “AI will have an active role in everything from enterprise legal management to legal spend management and contract lifecycle management, resulting in continuous efficiencies and cost savings for corporate legal departments. Historically, legal departments have been thought of as black boxes where requests go in and information, decisions or contracts come out with no real transparency. AI has the potential to enhance transparency and contribute to stronger enterprisewide business collaboration in a way that conserves a lawyer’s valuable time.”

    McCarthyFinch’s breadth of AI expertise from lawyers, technologists and data scientists speaks to the ever-evolving needs of the legal profession and Onit customers.

    “AI is a natural extension of our evolution,” continued Elfman. “In addition to acquiring award-winning technology, we have gained some of the brightest minds in the AI space.”

    Nick Whitehouse, McCarthyFinch’s CEO and co-founder, is now the general manager of the newly rebranded Onit AI Center of Excellence. He has focused on digital innovation and AI for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2019 as the IDC DX Leader of the Year for his advocacy across the legal industry and Australasia. He is joined by McCarthyFinch’s vice president of legal, Jean Yang, who is now vice president of the Onit AI Center of Excellence.

    “McCarthyFinch has been dedicated to building world-leading AI that augments lawyers and helps automate low-value and time-intensive manual legal processes. Drafting contracts and redlining documents shouldn’t take up 70% of a lawyer’s time, as statistics suggest. There’s a better way to work,” stated Whitehouse. “With AI, we’ve dramatically changed the contract management lifecycle and enabled businesses to move faster, provide higher-quality services and lower the cost of legal services. We are excited to join the Onit team and apply AI to Onit’s contract lifecycle management solution and expansive product offerings.”

    Onit Is AI: Introducing Precedent and ReviewAI

    Onit’s new intelligence platform, Precedent, is uniquely positioned to complement its existing workflow automation platform, Apptitude, and drive AI and digital transformation in the legal market. The Precedent intelligence platform reads, writes and reasons like a lawyer, enabling legal and business professionals to get more work done faster. It combines machine learning and natural language processing so legal teams can automate tasks and processes to make them more efficient, cost-effective and faster.

    The first release on the Precedent intelligence platform, ReviewAI, focuses on pre-signature contract review. Law departments need a rapid path through drafting and negotiation to contract closure so they can accelerate the pace of doing business, increase contract compliance and enhance employee productivity. Using ReviewAI, lawyers can streamline intelligent activities like contract creation, redlining, complex negotiations and risk rating contracts on their terms. Through Precedent, ReviewAI learns from the vast inventory of a company’s contracts, leverages the company’s playbook and presents the results in a Microsoft Word plug-in so the legal team can work where it is accustomed to operating. Legal and contract teams can save up to 70% on review time, increase contract compliance and lower company risk.

    To learn more about the acquisition, listen to the Onit podcast featuring Elfman and Whitehouse and visit us online.

    About Onit     

    Onit is a global leader of workflow and artificial intelligence platforms and solutions for legal, compliance, sales, IT, HR and finance departments. With Onit, companies can transform best practices into smarter workflows, better processes and operational efficiencies. With a focus on enterprise legal management, matter management, spend management, contract lifecycle management and legal holds, the company operates globally and helps transform the way Fortune 500 companies and billion-dollar corporate legal departments bridge the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement. Onit helps customers find gains in efficiency, reduce costs and automate transactions faster. For more information, visit www.onit.com or call 1-800-281-1330.

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    Melanie Brenneman
    Onit, Inc.

  • 11 Nov 2020 11:29 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The creative work of a team of local animators is currently being showcased in 27 countries around the world.

    The three-minute short film, telling the tear-jerking story of the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter, was developed by Flux Animation for Disney's annual Christmas advertising campaign.

    While Flux has worked with Disney on a number of campaigns over the past few decades, the animation studio's general manager Joshua Forsman says this is the largest-scale piece of work his team has ever worked on for the entertainment juggernaut.

    Flux landed the brief for the job in the first week of lockdown and then spent the next six months working on the project around the clock.

    Forsman says that given the rapid turnaround, Flux established a 24-hour work cycle that saw contributors working on the project in New Zealand, Europe and even South America.

    "The limitations of geography disappeared due to coronavirus," says Forsman.

    Having visited Los Angeles a few weeks before New Zealand's lockdown occurred, Forsman said his team realised relatively early that they would have to get accustomed to remote work.

    "We saw how things were escalating in the United States and we knew the same was inevitable for New Zealand," he says.

    Before production on the Disney campaign started, Flux had already set up the entire team for remote work – meaning everyone was able to transition seamlessly into the strange working conditions.

    From the outset, the project posed a number of interesting creative challenges.

    Animation director Laban Dickinson says the challenge of making an ad resonate across 27 countries – and their cultures and languages – meant that Flux needed to find a way to tell the story without losing anything in translation.

    The creative team felt that the best way to do this was by telling the story without the use of dialogue and letting the expressions on the animated faces do all the talking.

    "In advertising, we normally only have around 60 seconds, so we felt quite fortunate to have three minutes to tell this story," says Dickinson.

    "We ended up using more of a short-film approach to the idea."

    The ad was launched in the UK as Disney's contribution to the Christmas advertising tradition in that country and it has since been rolled out around the globe.

    This is not the first time work by Flux has appeared on a giant global platform. A 2019 ad by Flux for Ram Trucks appeared on arguably the world's biggest advertising stage – the Super Bowl.

    Any time an ad appears in such a competitive space, the pressure is on to develop something that stands out from the crowd.

    This challenge of standing out in the cluttered Christmas ad market was already tough, but the stakes were heightened by the pressure of developing something suitable for a company long celebrated for its ability to enthral audiences.

    "It was the first time Disney had gone this route, so we really needed it to hold up," says Dickinson.

    If the early metrics are anything to go by, the campaign seems to have hit the mark by attracting over 1.8 million views online within the first 24 hours of its launch.

    And despite this success along with the recent appearance at the Super Bowl, the Flux team isn't ready to rest on its international laurels quite yet.

    "You're only ever as good as your last project," says Forsman.

    By: Damien Venuto

    Business Reporter, NZ Herald

  • 05 Nov 2020 7:12 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

    Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

    The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019.

    For the year ending September 2020, exports were up eight per cent to $9.39 billion compared to the previous year. The value of exports to nearly all of the top 10 markets (except the Netherlands) increased.

    In the September month, overall red meat exports were worth $501 million, down six per cent from September 2019. Both China and Japan were down, but there were increases to United States, Germany and UK. Sheepmeat exports to the US, Germany and the UK rose, as did beef exports to the US and Canada.

    Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the trade data was positive, especially given the volatility as a result of COVID-19.

    “There has been some shift from chilled to frozen product for sheepmeat as the industry pivoted away from the challenging food service sector into retail and e-commerce.

    “There was also some re-balancing to other markets from the record levels that were going to China last year. This demonstrates the industry’s ability to adjust product specifications and destinations to meet the demand from our global markets.

    “There are indications that demand in China will continue to increase and we anticipate strong buying patterns as China prepares for its Chinese New Year celebrations next year.

    “The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the COVID-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds.

    “However, we cannot be complacent. We are yet to see the full economic and social impact of COVID-19. With the UK, Europe and parts of the US going into a second lockdown, we can expect further disruptions in our global markets.

    “We are also concerned about potential disruptions to shipping lines from Europe, the impact of the last drought in New Zealand and the prospect of extreme dry conditions in the coming months. This means the uncertainty and volatility will continue for some time.”
    www.mia.co.nz


  • 02 Nov 2020 7:15 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    FileInvite, the document and data collection engine that improves customer experience and employee productivity, has raised an additional $2.3M for a total of $4.5M. Investors see a growing market for solutions that help businesses to digitize and automate processes to adapt to a changing landscape. FileInvite has doubled its revenue in the past 10 months, increased staff more than 300 percent, and evolved the solution to serve more than 300,000 users in 26 countries.

    The over-subscribed capital raise was led by Flying Kiwi Angels, and supported by investor groups including Icehouse Ventures, Enterprise Angels, and NZGCP among others.

    “Interest in secure document transfer was growing strongly even prior to COVID-19 as stricter privacy laws in Australia and Europe drove brokers to improve their operational processes dealing with personal data. More recently, the pandemic has accelerated consumers adopting online transactions rather than visiting bank or mortgage brokers in person, and this is happening as economic stimulus packages in the US such as CARES Act are increasing the volume of loan transactions,” says James Sampson, CEO and founder, FileInvite.

    FileInvite’s cloud-based platform allows consumers and professionals such as loan officers or mortgage brokers to remotely share, track and audit the collection of personal documents, without compromising security or complicating the process by using email.

    powered by Rubicon Project

    The new funds will be used to accelerate sales and marketing in the US, where financial services organisations are accelerating adoption of digital solutions to improve customer experience and operational excellence. In July FileInvite signed its first US reseller, Arizona-headquartered sales software and consultancy firm Performance Insights which counts Wells Fargo and Bank of America as clients.

    The US push builds on customer momentum closer to home. Since adding Loan Market and Aussie Home Loans in Australia to FileInvite’s customer list, as many as one in three brokered loans in Australasia now goes through FileInvite each month.

    “We know from talking to our top brokers that this tool can save them anywhere up to two hours per application, so if you think about that, we've given well over 60,000 hours a year back to our brokers to be out there providing more service to more Australians,” says Rainer Rhedey, Chief Digital Officer, Aussie Home Loans.

    Founded in 2015, FileInvite now has 22 staff in its Auckland office and other remote locations throughout NZ. The company was a finalist in 2020 in both the NZ Hi Tech Awards 2020 and the Westpac Business Awards for Excellence in International Trade.

    https://www.fileinvite.com/

  • 30 Oct 2020 5:40 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    To open more doors for its US Foodservice business, Fonterra has entered a sales and marketing agreement with one of America’s leading dairy co-operatives, Land O’Lakes, Inc.

    The arrangement will open up opportunities to expand the reach of Fonterra’s Foodservice products into other US foodservice outlets. 

    Fonterra’s Global Director Foodservice, Paul Harvey, says the US is not only the largest dairy foodservice market in the world, it is also the most competitive.

    “Land O’Lakes works with all major US national and top regional foodservice distributors and this will help enable potential national distribution of Fonterra products.

    “While Fonterra has been in the US Foodservice market for a number of years, breaking into it at any great scale requires a fresh approach.

    “By working with Land O’Lakes, we will have access to a strong, well-established distribution network and their large customer base.

    “A big part in securing the partnership was our reputation for developing a range of innovative dairy products, along with our commitment to food safety and quality, which gives people confidence to choose our products.

    “Land O’Lakes will help us distribute, promote and sell our cooking creams and cream cheese and, in the future, we will look to expand our relationship into other categories such as cheese products.”

    “We are excited to leverage the knowledge and expertise our two co-operatives have in dairy with a broader portfolio of products designed to help foodservice operators make the most of dairy in their kitchens,” says Catherine Fox, Vice President, Marketing, Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods.

    Greg Somerville, Vice-President, Sales, Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, added, “As a result of COVID-19, performance products in Foodservice will be of utmost importance to operators. The Land O’Lakes Foodservice Sales team is looking forward to adding Fonterra’s high-performance products to our portfolio, which will enable us to provide an expanded range of solutions to existing and new segments and operators.”

    Paul says that, when Fonterra launched its value focused strategy last year, it was clear it would develop its Foodservice markets. 

    “We want to do this by collaborating more with like-minded partners, leveraging our intellectual property and skills, rather than making significant capital investments of our own. This agreement with Land O’Lakes is a great example of this and one we could look to apply in other markets too.”

    About Land O’Lakes, Inc. 

    Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned co-operative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2019 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest co-operatives, ranking 232 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 99 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minnesota.

    www.fonterra.com

  • 30 Oct 2020 1:35 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Six outstanding company’s achievements during the COVID 19 pandemic were recognised at celebration dinner in Auckland last night at the new Park Hyatt Hotel.

    The focus of this year’s awards was success & resilience during the COVID19 pandemic.
    We were looking to recognize companies, organisations, or individuals who could show resilience, ingenuity, had pivoted, and had been successful in growing relationships and business between the USA and NZ during these difficult times.


    There were no set categories, which meant that entrants were competing from a wide range of sectors including importing, exporting, investment, education, research/science, tourism, dealing with workforce issues, supply chains, and creative sectors.

    There were a record number of entries and some of the key messages that came out of the entries:

    -          There has been some outstanding innovation, resilience, perseverance, and tenacity shown during these unprecedented times.

    -          The global playing field has been leveled and New Zealand is well placed to take advantage of it.

    -          Enabling technologies are out there waiting for society to catch up            . 

    -          New Zealand’s economy has moved from just exporting containers of goods to exporting our unique innovations. 

    -          Sustainability and climate change are creating a challenge and an opportunity.

    -          The customer experience is absolutely everything.       

    The winners were:

    Animation Research Ltd – www.arl.com
    Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Ltd -
    www.fphcare.com
    GFS Risk Ltd – www.gfsrisk.com
    Kami Ltd – www.kamiapp.com
    Magic Memories Innovation Ltd – www.magicmemories.com
    Tourism Holdings Ltd – www.thlonline.com

    U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown spoke at the dinner and presented a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the US Commercial Service – SelectUSA to Andy Stevens, CEO of Quantifi Photonics Ltd  

    25 Year membership awards were presented to RE Biz Ltd & ATPI New Zealand Ltd.

    Norris Echetebu Law received the 2020 AmCham Supporter of the Year award.

    In addition to AmCham’s lead awards sponsor DHL-Express, the awards are also supported by ANZ Bank, Ironside McDonald Intellectual Property, media partner The Business, wine sponsor Constellation Brands and event manager Lime & Soda.

  • 19 Oct 2020 5:23 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Good Feeding (Go Well), a start-up focused on infant nutrition, has won the 2020 Food-Navigator USA Trailblazers award for innovation in kid-focused foods. Good Feeding provides parents and caregivers guidance, support, and tools to establish healthy eating habits in children from even before their first bite. Its personalised baby food subscription plan, Go Well®, aims to train baby’s palate by utilising windows of opportunity during crucial development phases, exposing baby to different flavors, and promoting acceptance of new foods, especially vegetables.

    “At Good Feeding, our focus is to give babies the start they deserve by equipping parents with information and tools to make healthy and safe food choices. This award by Food Navigator USA is a recognition and validation of our efforts towards this end,” Phil McGrath, CEO and co-founder of Good Feeding said. Trailblazers Challenge is an annual event held by Food-Navigator USA where start-ups and established brands pitch their innovative food and nutrition products targeting parents and children. Good Feeding will take the centre-stage at the Food for Kids summit being held in the US next month.

    “Good Feeding aims to change perception on infant nutrition by supplementing traditional knowledge on feeding with science-backed information and resources that focus on early exposure to the right foods and flavors. This will be an excellent opportunity to further our mission of educating parents on palate training, and helping them make the best food choices for their little ones,” Frances McGrath, Good Feeding co-founder, said. The company is also a part of the ‘Shaping Early Palates’ initiative by Partnerships for Healthier America (PHA), a nonprofit co-founded by former US First Lady Michelle Obama. The program aims to promote lifelong healthy eating habits and fight childhood obesity.

    Good Feeding is set to launch Go Well, its chilled baby food subscription program in the US later this month. The high quality, no added sugar, nutritionally-dense baby food is produced using an exclusive, innovative technology suite that preserves texture, flavour, and colour.

    https://www.goodfeeding.com/

  • 16 Oct 2020 12:55 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    CHANDLER, Ariz., Oct. 2, 2020 — Microchip Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MCHP) today announced the acquisition of Tekron International Limited, a global leader in providing high-precision GPS and atomic clock time-keeping technologies and solutions for the smart grid and other industrial applications. The terms of the deal are confidential.

    “This acquisition brings Tekron’s knowledgeable team and widely adopted products to our synchronization and timing offering that has become indispensable in today’s increasingly digital, networked world,” said Randy Brudzinski, vice president of Microchip’s Frequency and Timing Systems business unit. “Precise, accurate time is an enabling ingredient for virtually all infrastructures, from data centers, communications and industrial networks to financial exchanges. Acquiring Tekron enables us to expand our offering across a broad customer base in the rapidly expanding smart energy and industrial markets.”

    Microchip has established a leading position in the synchronization and timing market for communications, enterprise, government, and military and aerospace applications. Tekron extends this focus to encompass the specific industry requirements for the power utilities and industrial markets. Founded in 2002 in Wellington, New Zealand, Tekron has solved key challenges including providing precision time stamping for advanced substation automation applications; ensuring Network Time Protocol (NTP) reliability and security over computer networks; maintaining continuous time sync operation for transmission and distribution system operators; and implementing IEEE® 1588V2 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) standards to modernize the traditional power grid.

    “We are excited to have our employee family join Microchip to help expand its reach and coverage in the smart energy and industrial segments,” said Ian Mills, the outgoing Chairman of the Board with Tekron. “The transaction brings together two organizations with a shared commitment to innovation and flawless execution that is so critical in the timing and synchronization industry.  We have strong mutual and complementary track records for successfully deploying this highly specialized technology in demanding applications.  We look forward to expanding on this further with the joining of the New Zealand team into the Microchip family.”

    For more information on products and history or for contact information visit www.tekron.com.

  • 11 Oct 2020 4:14 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    In a deal most Kiwi brands could only dream of, reality television royalty Khloe Kardashian has become an equity partner and global spokeswoman of New Zealand collagen brand Dose & Co.

    The deal is set to take the collagen brand to the global market with Kardashian harnessing her 122 million-strong social media following and global influence as face and partner of the brand.

    In an exclusive statement to the Herald, Kardashian shared that the deal came about after Dose & Co's stable Zuru Edge sent their products to the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and mum of a toddler.

    "I was sent Dose & Co to try and I loved the plastic-free packaging and what the brand stood for. Then as soon as I started to see results I knew I wanted to work with Libby and her team.

    "I can see why Kiwis have such an amazing reputation because the Dose & Co team has been working so hard to make our US launch a huge success."

    Zuru co-founder Nick Mowbray shared that it was Kardashian who then started the conversation that led to the global deal.

    "The deal came about very organically. With all our Zuru Edge brands, the priority is finding authentic partners who share the passion for what we do. We sent Dose & Co to Khloe, she tried it, reached out to us and we started a conversation," Mowbray told the Herald.

    Mowbray labelled the partnership "a dream", sharing that the star has been instrumental in the US launch, set to take place this week.

    "Khloe has always been a dream of ours, because of her ability to connect with fans on a very authentic level. People trust her and they admire her when it comes to beauty, health and wellness. What's impressed me has been Khloe's level of involvement and attention to detail launching this brand; it hints of a very long and fruitful relationship together," said Mowbray.

    The brand was founded in 2019 by qualified naturopath Libby and her brother Ryan Matthews. However, the deal with Kardashian was beyond what the siblings ever thought was possible when they launched their passion project.

    "When I started Dose & Co I would never have dreamed of a partnership with someone like Khloe, but it's a testament to the product and New Zealand's reputation for creating disruptive brands," shared Libby.

    "Having worked with Khloe I've been so blown away by her passion and work ethic when it comes to making a difference. She really believes in Dose & Co and the difference collagen can make to new mums like her and I."

    After becoming a mother, Libby was inspired to create a range of eco-conscious collagen products that promote holistic health from the inside out, something which appeared to stand out to Kardashian.

    "Libby gave birth to her daughter around the same time I gave birth to True and we both found collagen to be hugely helpful in the stages of post-pregnancy. Libby and I bonded over this journey and I loved how she was on a mission to make premium collagen accessible to more young mothers like us," Kardashian shared.

    With the announcement of the conclusion of the Kardashian's reality TV show last month, the move appears to hint at what might be next for one of the most famous faces on television.

    "I've always been really passionate about health and fitness and working with Libby and Dose & Co has reinforced my love for the wellness category. I'm fortunate that I have a platform where I can share the things that have helped me and enrich my life with others. This has been a really engaging process and I'm excited for the consumer response to the launch," the reality star revealed.

    "Filming KUWTK was an unforgettable experience and I loved being able to work that closely with my family for so many years. We now have this amazing video album of all the incredible trips and experiences we've had."

    Today, collagen remains one of the fastest-growing wellness categories globally, estimated to be worth over $5.25 billion is set to reach $8.1 billion by 2027.

    Keeping sustainability the focus, the brand has gone from strength to strength, starting out as a purely E-commerce store and then moving into supermarkets in New Zealand and Coles in Australia.

    "Over the next few years our emphasis is on growing the brand internationally. It's been an incredible ride so far and who knows what the future holds, but right now our focus is making Dose & Co one of the world's largest brands in the health and wellness category," shared co-founder Ryan Matthews.

    Dose & Co will be available in Target, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and Amazon stores across the US before the end of the year.

    "However, we plan to announce plenty more partners in 2021," Mowbray added.

    Source: NZ Herald, By: Jenni Mortimer

  • 08 Oct 2020 3:40 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    A US government agency has given a multimillion-dollar grant to a New Zealand firm as it seeks to hugely expand America's Covid-19 testing capability.

    Currently, fewer than 1 million Covid tests are being carried out
     per day in the US, at a time when experts say up to 30 million per day are required.

    The US Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutions of Health (NIH) unit has just awarded US$98 million ($140m) in grants to firms that can supply hardware to boost rapid testing - as part of a wider US$1.5 billion programme to plug the testing gap with various "RADx" (rapid diagnostic) initiatives.

    One is the Albany, Auckland-based Ubiquitome - maker of the Liberty16 mobile testing machine - which has received US$2.5m ($3.6m) from NIH after a "Dragon's Den" style process to determine recipients.

    Over six months, competing companies have been winnowed down to a handful that have received money for manufacturing.

    Ubiquitome is the only company outside the US to secure funding.

    Following testing at Massey University, the Liberty16 is good to go for Covid-19 testing, Ubiquitome CEO and chairman Dr Paul Pickering says.

    The shoebox-sized, battery-powered Liberty16 can test 16 blood or saliva samples for Covid-19 in 40 minutes, delivering results to its iPhone app.

    The 2.5kg gadget is billed as the smallest real-time gadget for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA sample testing

    The NIH funds will be used to scale up manufacturing, which will remain in Auckland.

    Pickering says he wants to double staff numbers, which he prefers not to give figures for the privately held Ubiquitome (for which LinkedIn lists 17 employees).

    The NIH money follows a $528,927 NZ government Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund grant in May for product development, plus a $169,000 grant for the Massey testing (Otago University and ESR have also been involved in early Liberty16 validation and benchmarking projects).

    Ubiquitome is in the process of applying for US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) emergency approval for the Liberty16.

    Ubiquitome has already sold Liberty16 into research and clinical labs in Japan, the US, Canada, the UK and Germany.

    The Auckland company recently inked a sales and distribution deal with the Swiss giant DKSH (DiethelmKellerSiberHegner), which Pickering says is also assisting with medical registration in various countries around the world.

    Ubiquitome was founded in 2014. Pickering (a former exec with US medtech Life Technologies) is the largest shareholder with a 43 per cent stake, followed by Otago University's commercialisation arm with a 21 per cent holding. Smaller shareholders include Icehouse Ventures.

    The Liberty16 pre-dates Covid. It was developed for point-of-care testing, and earlier garnered media coverage for its ability to analyse samples at a crime scene.

    And Pickering says it can be adapted to identify any virus or bacteria, which will continue to keep it relevant once the Covid-19 threat finally passes.

    The CEO says there is only "very limited" competition to the Liberty16 in its mobile, on-the-spot testing niche, which he sees as suitable for situations like rapid testing at a border.

    Fixed laboratories can handle a much larger volume of testing, faster, but he describes the Liberty16 as disruptive - with thousands of units of the gadget able to collectively carry out more testing, and in more flexible fashion. He compares it to the difference between laptops and mainframes.

    Public listing?

    Where there are no firm plans for a public listing at this point, Pickering says the stars are starting to align.

    "We're aware an IPO window has opened and are investigating," he says.

    "The ASX has historically done a good job supporting NZ life science company IPOs but we are also aware of recent efforts by NZX to improve their track record in this regard."

    Source: NZ Hearld, By: Chris Keall