Automating laboratory workflows hasn't been convenient before. The spinoff of Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich, UniteLabs AG is building new kind of flexible, easy and affordable automation for life science research facilities. The novel technology allows access to automation software remotely, schedule the scientific work and geta real-time updates. UniteLabs uses computer vision to localise and track laboratory instruments. By combining the latest robotic technologies, computer vision tools, and experience from both manual and automated labs into a software solution, it enables lab automation with previously unseen ease and flexibility. This allows ad-hoc automation for temporary experiments and low-cost alternative to today's custom made automation systems.
This system integrates directly with special instruments and laboratory information management systems, so all the results will be automatically uploaded to the users' systems. This is the first-ever automation system that implements the open SiLA 2 standard at Idorsia Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The barcode reader and LC/MS devices now talk a universal language. In this workflow, the plate barcode is first to read and communicated to the LIMS. In the response, the user receives the analysis instructions for the current plate which will be sent to Waters' LC/MS (liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry) device via SiLA 2 interface. Once the analysis is done, the sample plate is discarded and the results are automatically uploaded to the LIMS.
The Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) spinoff from ETH Zurich was incorporated at the beginning of November 2017. At the moment UniteLabs AG is a team of two co-founders, interns, thesis students. The team doubled since that time. Maximilian Schulz, a roboticist with two years experience at ETH Zurich spinoff Rapyuta Robotics. Oskari Vinko is a D-BSSE alumni from Biotechnology MSc program at ETH Zurich and a software entrepreneur, focusing on automation and digitalisation in life science laboratories. He built a remote-controlled pipetting robot, programmed yeast cells to be controllable with light pulses and developed computer vision tools for liquid handling robots. Oskari is also a passionate and distinguished science communicator. He won the world's largest science talk competition, FameLab, and is now training scientists for more clear and engaging talks on his free time.
The goal of the newly incorporated D-BSSE spinoff is to automate life science labs in minutes instead of days and bring automation as an everyday tool in the lab. The spinoff has already started with its first customer to automate liquid chromatography and mass spec instruments for compound analytics. UniteLabs AG is also building a new standard for laboratory automation, SiLA 2, together with SiLA industry consortium.
With Lab Automation & the Internet of Things, the digital transformation comes to life also in science and analytical labs. Digitalisation is transforming the way we live our lives in many different aspects. This will definitely change the way people work, experiment, learn and discover. With the novel approach, it is possible to simply park your robot next to the device and the robot will do its job. UniteLabs aims to significantly decrease the amount of work to establish automation setups for Life Science laboratories.