Anyone who has ever worked in biotech, chemistry or pharmaceuticals knows that the physical environment of a lab can have a huge impact on experiments.
That’s why local startup Elemental Machines is trying to make labs “smart.”
The Cambridge-based company has created a network of intelligent sensors that continuously monitor lab equipment and environmental conditions to help customers improve lab operations, research and development, and even manufacturing outcomes.
“We’re proving the thesis that business intelligence has been applied to virtually every other department but research and development folks,” said Sridhar Iyengar, CEO and co-founder. “We’re showing the value proposition to those big customers.”
The sensors track contextual variables like temperature, humidity, air pressure and light in research labs while monitoring equipment performance (think freezers, refrigerators, ovens and incubators).
The easily installed, battery-powered sensors instantly relay that information to a connected, web-based dashboard for easy access to performance data, as well as alerts if readings are out of range.
This continuous feedback is designed to help customers (from pharma and biotech companies to hospitals and academic institutions) track performance of critical equipment, understand their usage patterns and identify potential maintenance issues.
Iyengar said Elemental Machines could save scientists months of guesswork whenever they’re trying to figure out why an experiment went awry.
“By bringing the Internet of Things, as well as data and analytics into the lab, scientists are going to see huge gains in research,” Iyengar said.
Not to mention cost savings.
Instead of manually gathering individual data points across a day and analyzing them on a spreadsheet, lab-monitoring programs like Elemental Machines could reduce overall maintenance costs by an industry average of 25 percent—saving an average midsized life sciences organization up to $20 million annually.
Iyengar added that Elemental Machines was born from experience.
Formerly co-founder of Misfit Wearables, a fitness-tracking startup, Iyengar said he came up with the idea for his most recent venture after a humid laboratory caused one of his chemical formulas to be unstable.
“One of the best ways to start a company is to solve a problem you’ve had yourself and that’s what we’re doing here,” Iyengar said.
The company currently employs 12 in Boston, but Iyengar said he plans on growing the team next spring.