Massey University Launches Diagnostics Company Ampersand Technologies
New DNA-based technologies are revolutionising how the world manages disease outbreaks. Ampersand Technologies, a Massey University spinout company launched in 2021 with co-investment from Massey Ventures and Matū, aims to be at the forefront of these changes.
Ampersand is built around the research of Professor Peter Lockhart and Dr. Richard Winkworth from Massey University. The company uses new isothermal amplification technologies to deliver fast, cheap, and accurate diagnostic assays to clients. Focusing on agricultural, horticultural, and environmental applications the company offers a combination of diagnostic testing and assay development services.
The target of Ampersand’s first assay is the pathogen responsible for kāuri dieback disease, a root and collar rot of kāuri trees with no known cure. Ampersand’s testing is not only more sensitive but is faster and more cost effective than the standard approach. The new test allows us to move beyond simply confirming diagnoses based on disease symptoms to actively monitoring pathogen distribution, measuring the rate and pattern of spread, and evaluating the efficacy of control measures. Results of the new test have already been used to inform management practice.
“Diseases are one threat to the long-term survival of our native biota and economic value of our primary industries” says Ampersand’s Managing Director, Dr. Richard Winkworth. “However, new technologies are enabling rapid, robust tests to be deployed outside the lab. This can greatly improve the effectiveness with which we manage disease”.
Following the successful implementation of their kāuri dieback assay, Ampersand have begun to expand their portfolio of diagnostics for agricultural, horticultural, and environmental applications.
Massey Ventures and Matū announce co-investment in Ampersand Technologies
In November 2021, Ampersand Technologies announced co-investment from Massey University’s commercialisation subsidiary, Massey Ventures, and venture capital fund Matū. The investment provides Ampersand the runway to scale their operations and develop a range of diagnostic tests across key markets.
“The investment will go a long way toward turning the work of Massey University researchers on an emerging technology into an exciting company” says Massey University Senior Commercialisation Manager Dr. Sean Mackay. “It’s also great to see a deal that enables the academic inventor-founder to lead the commercialisation”.
Massey Ventures is also excited by the opportunity to co-invest with Matū. Massey Ventures CEO, Mark Cleaver says “Ampersand is a great example of universities partnering with well-connected venture capital funds to commercialise innovative research. Moreover, it opens the door to further collaborations for several of the upcoming projects in our commercialisation pipeline.”