KIT’s Spinoff cubuslab GmbH Offers Manufacture-independent Plug&Play Solution for Automatic Readout and Processing of Laboratory Data in Research and Industry
Many tasks in everyday life and at work are executed with digital support that facilitates life and accelerates workflows. Information technology and automation have become integral parts of these activities. But still, laboratory workplaces exist, where experiments have to be documented and evaluated manually. Reasons may be the variety of manufacturers, devices, and company-specific software, which are not compatible with each other and, hence, aggravate digital networking.
Dr. Dominic Lütjohann knows this problem from own experience in the chemical research sector. At public research institutions in particular, financial means are lacking to equip laboratories with latest information technology. During his Ph.D. phase with Professor Stefan Bräse at the KIT Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG), the bioinformatician therefore started to develop a flexible and affordable solution for laboratory automation. After having defined this purpose of business, he developed the basic idea of a networked laboratory for worldwide exchange of research data in science together with Dr. Nicole Jung. Lütjohann was aware of his idea having even more potential and being suitable for laboratory management.
Having the wish to establish a company and the idea, he still had to find the right team. At a meeting organized by the Center for Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship (CIE), Lütjohann found Martin Langer, who then joined the team with his knowledge as an economic engineer and co-founder of wollwerk.org. Finally, Julian Lübke completed the team with programming and marketing know-how. Prior to establishing their company, the team used many support offers by KIT, such as the seminar “Entrepreneurship Basics” or the coaching provided by the Innovation Management Service Unit. With the help of the EXIST founder grant, they finally established the spinoff cubuslab GmbH in 2015.
The company offers up-to-date and low-cost solutions for laboratory automation. “Contrary to other suppliers, we develop hardware and software. Our software allows for data processing and automation. The hardware component is used for manufacturer-independent networking of laboratory instruments,” Lütjohann explains. cubuslab pursues a modular approach. The basic module and heart of the system is a connector, a universal adapter as a digital interface that interconnects the laboratory instruments. Up to four instruments can be connected to a connector. It is an embedded system, a so-called embedded computer that is connected to a server for data storage. Depending on the client’s wish, the company’s internal servers or a cloud server of cubuslab can be used. On these servers, the instrument and experiment data are stored in real time and can be processed further directly. Via an internet browser on the PC or mobile device, users can access their data. The laboratory process and the connected measurement instruments can be monitored continuously, analyzed, or controlled remotely. The basic module may be complemented by other branch-specific functions: “At the moment, we are developing extension modules for sample administration and an electronic laboratory journal. We make the laboratory paperless and smart and facilitate workflow,” Lütjohann says.
On the business-to-business market (B2B), the process of establishing a company takes a longer time. Products have to convince with quality and real added values. Langer reveals: “Vicinity to KIT gives us optimum opportunities for specific product development. In cooperation with the ITG and the Institute of Organic Chemistry (IOC), we verify our product and test it in scientific application.” In addition, a cost-free academic version for universities is planned. This will ensure direct exchange between entrepreneurs and users.
The spinoff has its office in Karlsruhe-Rüppurr. Robert Koning, owner of the VC Ventures incubator, did not only give cubuslab room to grow, but supports the team as a business angel and investor. “So far, it has all worked out terrifyingly well for us. We are growing slowly, but constantly. We want to co-design future laboratories,” Lütjohann says.
Lange Straße 2