Pacific Channel Limited

Orbis - Corona Virus detection

Private Equity

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Transaction Size
NZD 5,300,000.00
Share Price
NZD 8.50
Minimum Investment
NZD 50,000.00
Issue Type
Private Equity
Health Care

Click here to access the recording of the Webinar from Friday 24 April 1-2pm. Hear from Professor Cather Simpson, Founding Scientist and Director and Brent Ogilvie, Commercial Founder and CEO.


Pacific Channel, is seeking up to NZ$5.3 million of further capital on behalf of its investee company Orbis Limited. Funds from the capital raise will be used to validate Orbis’ diagnostic system as a cost-effective, precise and accurate immunoassay that offers significant advantages at the public health level for immune status and infectivity screening. 

Orbis has completed significant work over the last month to repurpose its rapid, cost effective, quantifiable and point-of-need platform technology to detect novel infectious agents and antibody response. Orbis believes that it's platform technology will have significant advantages for detecting at scale, novel infective agents, and conferred immunity to these agents, including COVID-19. Orbis’ system should also be readily adaptable for any new impending pandemic.   

Orbis is adapting its high-throughput immunoassay system for identification rapidly and quantifiably within large groups of people from a finger prick of blood:

-      Those who possess immunity and are not a risk to themselves or others; (No viral antigen and IgG antibodies only)

-      Those who are currently contagious, whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic; (presence of viral antigen, IgM antibodies only or IgM and IgG antibodies) and

-      Those not yet infected or who have ineffective immune response; (No viral antigen and no IgM & IgG).

Once adapted, we anticipate Orbis’ system taking as little as 5 minutes to achieve qualitative yes/no results, and accurate quantitative results in as little as 15 minutes, with no significant sample prep time. Importantly, the microfluidic technology was developed to provide parallel testing within one low cost unit to measure samples collected from up to 30 individuals at a time. 

We believe that this is an important step towards re-enabling the movement of people in a pandemic by identifying those who are safe to move without risk to themselves or others to help a return towards normalcy. 

Pacific Channel has already invested in the company and will be investing further into this offer. 

Points of Difference

Orbis Diagnostics Limited has developed a rapid, cost-effective, accurate and scalable point-of-need immunoassay platform that offers significant advantages at the public health level for immune status and infectivity screening.

It’s adaptable platform approach also makes it highly suitable for rapid test development to combat future pandemic threats.

Existing point-of-care Covid-19 testing approaches focus on low-throughput and qualitative diagnostics (ie. for individual testing); Orbis uniquely focuses on high throughput and quantified point-of-need screening at scale (ie. to screen large numbers of individuals simultaneously).

Pandemic Applications:

Immunity and Infectivity Screening: Increasingly infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists have hinted at a future where we only allow movement of people certified free of, or immune to SARS-CoV2. While many countries are considering Covid-19 ‘Immunity Visas' for key workers, current technology constraints make it difficult to roll out testing more widely.

Examples where Orbis’ approach to provide controlled entry to certain locations would have considerable value include testing medical professionals entering a hospital, family or therapeutic staff entering a retirement facility, and individuals attending policy meetings, accessing key parts of society’s infrastructure or inter-state travel, similar to current security screening at airports. While many existing technologies are focused on the clinical diagnosis market, Orbis’ technology is uniquely positioned to focus on this risk management market.

To make screening at this scale feasible, the test will need to be rapid (<15mins), able to be performed by non-technically trained staff, high throughput (up to 30 people at a time), low-cost (Orbis could supply tests at $1-2/test), as well as sensitive and quantitative.

Developing World Diagnosis: In the developing world, product requirements for clinical diagnosis favour systems that are point-of-care, low cost and easy to use. We believe Orbis’ system could be well suited to this market as it is expected to be cheaper and more scalable, while equivalently rapid and easy to use as point-of-care PCR.  

Vaccination Diagnosis: Once a vaccine(s) is released, it will be initially be available in limited quantities. Socialised healthcare systems especially, will prioritise individuals who have not developed an immunity following infection at the point-of-care where immunisation is occurring to identify those to vaccinate first. Immunisation clinics may also need to identify who has not developed sufficient immunity following vaccination to determine who should be provided with additional booster shots. 

Current Technology Landscape:



Specificity/ Sensitivity

Fast Diagnosis


Integrated reporting of results

Cost per test at scale

Nucleic Acid detection and amplification tests^.

DNA-based POC tests

eg. Abbott ID-NOW



5-30 min




RT-qPCR type^^ 

Molecular lab based


4-8 hours




Protein and Antibody detection and testing




5-15 mins




Medical Laboratory immunoassay 

Immunology Lab based


2-4 hours




Lateral flow 

Pocket sized


5-15 mins




***** = Strong   * = Weak

Existing assays to detect virus: These methods work by detecting viral components

·     Abbott ID-NOW*: a portable amplification test, doesn’t require any sample preparation/extraction and can be run in ~5 mins for an early positive result or ~13mins for full results. It provides a rapid and sensitive method for detecting viral presence, it cannot detect immune response. We believe rapid amplification technologies like Abbott ID-NOW will be used by healthcare providers (public and private) to rapidly and accurately detect Covid-19 infection. We expect this system will be used to inform medical decisions i.e. the need for quarantine, isolation, treatment, etc. However, in its point-of-care format it can only test a single person at a time and only for presence of viral RNA. This means that while its effective at rapid diagnosis, it is not useful for widespread screening, nor for the identification of people that have effective immunity or suitable for use in developing markets. *Previously Alere

·     qPCR: an example of nucleic acid tests that quantify the presence of an infectious agent through DNA or RNA amplification and measurement. This method is currently time consuming (3-4hrs), very sensitive to contamination and is relatively costly. These methods are generally housed in specialist laboratories and require trained staff to achieve accurate, repeatable results. In addition to longer testing times, sample collection and transport to the laboratory can add significant delays. These features undermine their suitability for rapid testing or for testing in community-based settings.

·     Medical laboratory immunoassay: detects and quantifies an infectious agent by using tagged, specific antibodies or aptamers that bind to target identifying molecules. Lab-based ELISA testing typically takes 2-4 hours.

Existing antibody assays: These methods detect antibodies produced against the virus to confirm an established stage infection and/or immunity

·     Lateral flow: Like ELISA, lateral flow testing detects infectious agents or immune response through binding of a labelled detector. These “dip-stick” tests typically take 15 minutes to obtain a qualitative “yes/no” result with lower sensitivity and accuracy. The millions of lateral flow antibody tests already ordered will not be sophisticated enough to reveal the extent of a person’s immunity. They return a simple positive or negative result for circulating antibodies, which indicates whether an individual has been infected. Because a lateral flow does not provide quantification it cannot provide sufficient detail on the level of immunity and whether one's immunity is improving or declining. Their design also does not provide sufficient reliability to be used as a critical risk management screen.

·     Medical laboratory immunoassay: as described above.

Orbis’ technology

Orbis has developed a novel, proprietary ELISA-type assay on a microfluidic platform that achieves the accuracy, quantification and robust repeatability of a plate-based ELISA with the speed and portability of a lateral flow test. Orbis intends to detect the immune status of an individual (at scale at a point of need) from a finger prick of blood through identification of antibodies. The detection and differentiation of antibodies will allow determination of whether the individual is immune (IgG present), infectious (IgM or IgM + IgG) or naïve to the infection (no antibodies). Orbis intends to detect the infection status of an individual through identification of SARS-CoV2 antigens. Orbis’ solution can achieve the accuracy of a medical lab at a fraction of the cost and time and for multiple individuals. The Orbis system was designed to be installed in wet, dirty environments. It is robust and intended to be operated and managed by non-technically qualified staff. The system is sufficiently flexible such that tests can be performed before the entire disc is loaded, and the remaining test slots can be used later.

Orbis team:

Professor David Williams (Founding Scientist & Chair of Scientific Advisor Board):

David is an internationally award-winning scientist and recognized global expert in immunoassay development, electrochemistry and chemical sensors. He was formerly Head of Chemistry at University College London and Chief Scientist at Alere (when known as Inverness Medical Innovations) at the time when it developed Clearblue, the first digital home pregnancy test. David co-founded Capteur Sensors Ltd and Aeroqual Ltd. He is currently based at The University of Auckland and is an Emeritus Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and Associate Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery and of the Centre for Medical Device Technology. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland.

Professor Cather Simpson (Founding Scientist and Director):

Is one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded scientists having founded New Zealand’s premier laboratory for photonics research – the Photon Factory. As a Ministry of Primary Industries Champion, and member of the Primary Industries Science Strategy group, she is also one of New Zealand’s most successful translators of high-tech laboratory to AgTech impact. She is Founding Scientist and CSO of Engender Technologies, a spin out from the University of Auckland that was sold to CRV in 2018.

Dr. Allan Goldberg (Director designate):

Dr Allan Goldberg has been instrumental in the formation and development of a number of successful start-up life science companies, including ZyStor (sold to BioMarin, Innovir Laboratories, and Astex Pharmaceuticals (sold to Otsuka Pharmaceuticals). Dr Goldberg was previously a professor of virology and the Richard King Mellon Foundation Fellow at The Rockefeller University. During that time, he contributed to the field of viral oncology through his studies on transformation and presented widely at academic conferences. Dr Goldberg’s deep virology experience and networks to US investment and industry will add significant value to Orbis.

Colin Harvey (Director):

Colin Harvey is an experienced in the development and commercialisation of anti-pathogenic technologies and driving them to widespread market adoption. Colin founded the New Zealand animal health company Ancare, which created significant market share across several animal health categories. The trading assets and later R&D arm of Ancare were sold to Merial, a global animal health company.  

Dr. Matheus Vargas (Chief Technical Officer):

Matheus is an experienced scientist who is responsible for leading the R&D efforts of the company. His innovative thesis, in the field of microfluidics, has led to developments that allowed fast device prototyping of this novel high-throughput ELISA design.

Brent Ogilvie (Commercial founder & interim CEO):

Provides extensive commercial experience and an invaluable network of colleagues and international affiliates in the healthtech market, including proven international deal making experience. Brent was a co-founder of Engender Technologies, which he led and managed from start up to exit working with Prof. Simpson. Orbis is seeking to recruit a full-time CEO to be appointed from investor funds received through this offer.

Click here to read about Engender, a previous successful venture involving Pacific Channel, Cather Simpson and Brent Ogilvie. A PDF copy can be found under the Documents tab.

Register Interest and you will be put in touch with Pacific Channel.

Presentation - Orbis Diagnostics novel screening technology
April 16, 2020
Business Summary - Orbis Diagnostics novel screening technology
April 16, 2020
Orbis Diagnostics novel detection platform flyer
April 5, 2020
nbr.co.nz - Kiwi sperm selection startup sold
March 19, 2020

Pacific Channel Limited

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