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Canadian company expects to grow Ithaca presence

ITHACA — A Canadian company specializing in spectroscopy technology expects to grow a facility it has in Ithaca in the coming years.

Tornado Medical Systems, based in Toronto, has a four-person team in Ithaca working to shrink spectroscopy technology to smaller sizes, says Bradley Schmidt, Tornado CEO. That would allow the firm to reach some new markets.

One of the first sectors interested in the smaller technology is health care, Schmidt adds. Tornado’s products could be used in ophthalmology applications. 


The first product from the Ithaca office should be on the market in 2013, Schmidt says. The office opened about a year ago.

“It’s a small team right now that we intend to grow,” Schmidt says.

Companywide, Tornado employs 28 people.

Spectroscopy itself, Schmidt says, is a broad field with applications ranging from security and defense to food safety. The field involves analyzing different frequencies or wavelengths of a light source and then using that information to identify materials, according to Tornado.

Some of the company’s technology is licensed from Cornell University, says Schmidt, who earned a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell. Ithaca was also attractive because of the presence of Cornell’s Center for Nanoscale Systems, which works on nanotechnology research and development.

Tornado’s approach to shrinking spectroscopy technology involves nanophotonics, Schmidt says.

He compared the effort to reduce the size of the technology to how the size of ultrasound equipment has been reduced in recent years. Advances, Schmidt explains, have allowed for the development of much smaller ultrasound machines in the past five to 10 years.

That has opened new uses for the technology and more markets for manufacturers.

In addition to the Ithaca team’s technology, Tornado also has products that help improve the performance of existing spectroscopy equipment.

Tornado Spectral is the result of a merger between Tornado Medical Systems and Arjae Spectral Enterprises. The firms announced the merger Oct. 1.

Arjae and Tornado Medical both had some common founders. They launched originally with different areas of focus within spectroscopy.

Tornado Medical, formed in 2010, concentrated on medical and clinical imaging applications. Arjae, founded in 2008, focused on defense and security applications.

“Over time, it was a natural fit for the way the technology is trending and the way the opportunities are presenting themselves,” Schmidt says of the merger. “It just made sense to put the two together to create the mass required to tackle the embarrassment of riches in this field.”

Tornado uses contract manufacturers in North America and overseas. The company is financed by individual investors in the Toronto area. 

Tornado has its initial products on the market now with plans to release more next year. The company also uses its technology in custom applications for clients, Schmidt says.       


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