A NEW company which aims to commercialise mobile devices which can detect diseases on the spot, was launched in the region yesterday.
The joint venture between a Newcastle science firm and a multi-billion pound Japanese electronics giant could bring jobs, investment and mass manufacturing to the North East.
OJ-Bio is 80% owned by North East nanotechnology specialist Orla Protein Technologies, with 20% backing from Japan Radio Co (JRC).
The firm will be based at Newcastle’s Centre for Life and will employ five people, though this could grow.
Orla will combine its biotechnology expertise with JRC’s manufacturing capabilities to develop hand-held devices which can diagnose diseases by taking an on-the-spot sample of a bodily fluid via a special chip. The device will send the results wirelessly to a third party, making it ideal for airport quarantine situations. OJ-Bio products could be ready within a year, though it may take longer for mass production.
Orla and JRC have been working together since November 2007 to develop handheld wireless diagnostic devices, and last month cut the ribbon in Tokyo, Japan on a joint venture to manufacture, promote and sell the devices worldwide. It is understood the new company will be backed by about £500,000 in capital through investment from both parties and an additional investor.
Orla chief executive Dale Athey said: “We plan to keep Orla moving forward, developing our technology and product platform in the North East.
“This sort of device will open up new opportunities in the £10bn diagnostics marketplace.”