Unitelabs was founded at the end of 2017 as a spin-off from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). The startup produces software to automate and simplify time-consuming laboratory processes. “A lot of time is wasted on repetitive work” in laboratories says Oskari Vinko, co-founder of Unitelabs, in a press release from the ETH. “For example, researchers have to fill pipettes with liquid, take measurements and record the results.”
Such work can be completed automatically through the application of this software, which allows devices such as robots to be controlled. Scientists can then monitor the processes on the smartphone, so no longer necessarily have to be on-site. They would then have extra time to dedicate to “the more demanding parts of their job”, like planning experiments, analysing data and testing new ideas. The software also reduces the incidence of error and if any do occur, makes them easier to trace.
One problem in the life sciences sector is that the automation systems are still too heterogeneous. The Unitelabs founders therefore hope that their software will help bring about greater standardisation. “A uniform standard is important for our software to work and be applied broadly,” comments Maximilian Schulz, who created Unitelabs together with Oskari Vinko.
Unitelabs is still housed in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel at the moment, but there are plans to move to own offices near Basel railway station in spring. The company is already doing well, having won clients in Switzerland, Germany and Finland. It currently has eight employees, though this number is set to increase soon.