Zebra Analytix was founded in late 2017 to develop miniature gas chromatography (GC) systems based on MEMS technology exclusively licensed from Virginia Tech University. Zebra Analytix is a VIC Technology Venture Development portfolio company.
VIC (victvd.co) identifies and licenses technologies from universities and research institutions and forms new companies to commercialize these technologies. The company has access to funds from private institutions, high net worth individuals and grants that have resulted in roughly $100M in funding to date. VIC is currently seeking less than $1 million in pre-Series A funding for Zebra Analytix.
Gas chromatography is used in analytical chemistry to separate and analyze volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases emitted from certain solids and liquids. GC is able to split chemical mixtures into their components and allows scientists to detect and identify VOCs in many substances. It is used in a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry, environmental monitoring, clinical chemistry, food processing, and petroleum distillation, among others.
Today’s GC systems are typically large, bulky, stationary and costly (in the $100K range). The miniature gas chromatography platform being developed by Zebra Analytix is low cost (~$5K) and can be operated by non-experts in the field to analyze volatile compounds within seconds. Its GC technology opens up new market opportunities not presently served by other GC providers including real-time process control applications that take advantage of the exceptional speed of results.
The patents-pending technology leverages MEMS-based multi-channel separation columns with built-in sensors and heating elements. Advantages include decreased instrument size, versatility, portability, and much faster result time. The technology also offers new capabilities such as multi-channel partial separations on a single MEMS chip for use as an “electronic nose”.
The company offers the Zebra-GC Model L, a low-cost, complete, MicroGC system that works with a PC. The Zebra-GC Model M is a modular miniature GC system that has separate modules for pre-concentration, column, detector, and is compatible with single column or multi-column chips. Zebra also offers micro pre-concentrators featuring MEMS-based purge-and- traps with built-in heating elements and column design and refurbishment services.
Today’s $100K GC systems are beyond the price point of many potential applications. Zebra’s low-cost (~$5K) MicroGC system opens up a world of new applications for GC that have previously been cost prohibitive. As an example, craft beer brewers can use a low-cost Zebra MicroGC system to increase quality in many aspects of the brewing process, starting with measuring the quality of hops.
The company is engaging with strategic partners in addition to offering its own GC systems. Going forward, Zebra can pivot in several directions, ranging from supplying its core technology to strategic partners or offering complete systems for specific focus verticals where it can offer a first mover advantage. Zebra is currently surveying MEMS foundries to scale up operations.
Calvin Goforth, Ph.D., interim CEO and Chairman (Founder and CEO of VIC, a technology venture development firm)
Masoud Agah, Ph.D., co-founder& CTO (Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) Professor of Engineering in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech)
Bernie Prusaczyk, VP Business Development (previously VP Worldwide Business Development and Channels at NuGenesis Technologies. Currently Managing Director of VIC Technology Venture Development’s Boston Branch)
Xiaoli Su, Ph.D., Director of R&D
Chien Nguyen, Ph.D., Senior Electrical Engineer