A whiff of brilliance in real-time gas analysis
Sir Paul Callaghan often talked about New Zealand’s brilliance being rooted in the “weird stuff the big players don’t think to exploit”. It’s something Alex Fala recognises in Syft Technologies. “We’re a classic example,” the CEO says.
Syft Technologies uses selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) to measure the composition of gases in real time. At the heart of its operations is a compact instrument resembling a mini fridge, which possesses the remarkable ability to draw in air and initiate a series of chemical reactions within its confines. It then provides a detailed breakdown of compounds present in the gas, to an impressive precision level of 10 parts per trillion.
“What sets Syft Technologies apart is our ability to measure trace gases in real time,” explains Fala. “While traditional methods can take days to deliver results, we can do it in mere hours, minutes or even seconds. This breakthrough has opened doors to countless applications that were previously unimaginable.”
One of Syft Technologies’ notable clients is Samsung – a leading player in the semiconductor industry. Samsung relies on Syft Technologies’ instruments to monitor the air in the clean rooms where its semiconductors are made. Advanced computer chips are often separated by as little as three nanometres — at that scale, the presence of even a single foreign molecule can have a significant impact on manufacturing.
To maintain its position as a leading and enduring company, Syft Technologies has actively pursued the expansion of its customer base. In the past, the organisation heavily relied on just two companies for 50 percent of its revenue. Recognising the need for diversification, Syft Technologies has entered the pharmaceutical and consumer goods markets, looking to broaden its reach and establish a strong foundation for growth.
What sets Syft Technologies apart is our ability to measure trace gases in real time. While traditional methods can take days to deliver results, we can do it in mere hours, minutes or even seconds. This breakthrough has opened doors to countless applications that were previously unimaginable."
Syft Technologies’ instruments find valuable applications in pharmaceutical manufacturing, where they are employed to detect impurities by analysing air samples within vials. Similarly, in the consumer goods sector, Syft Technologies’ gas analysis technology contributes to the creation of safer and more efficient products, ultimately benefiting consumers.
Callaghan Innovation Student Grants have played a pivotal role in Syft Technologies’ trajectory. The grants have enabled the company to attract top talent and expand its research and development capabilities, fostering a culture of innovation and transforming interns into leaders within the organisation. An earlier Project Grant facilitated Syft Technologies’ expansion into measuring negative ions – a capability that turned out to be fundamental in the semiconductor space.
Syft Technologies offers valuable lessons to other New Zealand companies, emphasising the importance of early global expansion. As Fala says: “New Zealand businesses need to go global early because we’ve got such a small domestic market.” Additionally, he underscores the significance of staying focused on core values, as it allows businesses to avoid distractions and continue excelling in their respective industries.
In a recent development, Syft Technologies received an impressive $22.8 million investment from United States-based venture capital firm Ampersand, ushering in a new era of possibilities. This partnership not only provides a financial boost, but also brings deep expertise and networks in the pharmaceutical and life sciences spaces, enabling Syft Technologies to define and leverage new market opportunities. Exciting developments lie ahead as the company gears up for a major launch in the life sciences industry later this year.
At a glance
- Established in 2002
- CEO is Alex Fala
- Based in Christchurch
- Technology used across the semiconductor, pharmaceutical, consumer goods and environmental industries
- $22.8 million investment from US Venture Capital firm Ampersand
- Visit website
Callaghan Innovation impact
- Students Grants have enabled attraction of top talent and expansion of research and development capabilities
- Project Grant enabled expansion into new capability that proved fundamental to success
- Lean and Innovation IP programmes