A new spinout company from the University of Warwick will focus on the development of open-source and innovative laboratory equipment for life sciences researchers and citizen scientists.
Humane Technologies Ltd. aims to reduce the financial barriers to starting out in scientific research by offering both professional and would-be researchers the tools to build their own laboratory equipment. The company is preparing to launch its first two products, MicrobeMeter and Measure-It over the coming weeks.
Founded by two Warwick researchers, Prof Orkun Soyer and Dr Kalesh Sasidharan from the University’s School of Life Sciences, Humane Technologies has a vision of expanding access to the tools and technologies which are currently found only within fully-equipped research labs.
Prof Soyer said:
What sets us apart from other scientific instrument makers is that we are making the designs for our equipment available to the public, so that people with access to 3D printing and basic electronics can assemble their own devices at minimal cost. For those who want to get started straight away, we will also be selling the completed devices. We believe that this open source approach is a key to democratising science and enabling larger groups of students, qualified scientists and citizens to access the equipment that professional research labs take for granted.”
The founding duo believe that this approach can bring scientific endeavour within the reach of all curious minds, by overcoming a key barrier to experimentation and discovery: The cost of getting started.
Dr Sasidharan first developed the MicrobeMeter device to overcome a problem that he had whilst working on his own microbiology research projects. He explained:
I was frustrated by the amount of time that I was spending with taking samples for the measurement and waiting for other researchers to finish with the benchtop photometer. To buy another one would cost over £2,500 and we didn’t really have the space, so I decided to build my own. I soon realised that I could eliminate the sample-taking altogether and fit the device into a much smaller footprint. By adding a wireless interface I could also automate the measurements and collect my data remotely.”
Kalesh shared his prototype device with other researchers at Warwick and exhibited at two public science engagement events, where he received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the design. Kalesh continued:
Once we started to show other people our devices, they wanted to have their own. We needed to find a way to make it happen, and so Humane Technologies was born.”
The company will be launching a crowd-funding campaign in September 2018 for early-adopters of the MicrobeMeter and Measure-It devices. For more information, please visit their website. For further reading please visit BioRxiv. In the days following this publication, the article was ranked in the top 5% of research outputs scored by Altmetric.
The academic founders received extensive advice and support from Warwick Ventures in refining their business plan and setting up the company. Humane Technologies makes a record seventh spinout company established in the past year. For confidential advice on developing a new idea or innovation with potential commercial, social or wider impact, please get in touch with Warwick Ventures.