Leiden startup Panorama Laboratories aims to use technology to ease the administration of lab work
Good laboratory research is always accompanied by paperwork in which every action is meticulously recorded. This ensures well-founded scientific results, but the administration of it is a pleasure for few lab technicians. The Leiden startup Panorama Laboratories is trying to do something about that.
“This is a mechanical pipette like you find in labs worldwide,” Jan Zender demonstrates his startup’s invention. “To this we attach our device. For now, we call it by its working name: Panorama Beacon, a 3D-printed housing containing chips and instruments that transmit the pipette’s movements wirelessly to a computer.” It’s an unremarkable white enclosure. As a layman, you’d think it just came with the pipetting device. “That’s exactly the idea; we want to take a tedious task off the hands of lab workers without disrupting their normal way of working.”
Zender and his partner Max Green – they met a few years ago in the Leiden startup scene – have been working on their Beacon since 2018, which is now really starting to take shape. Green: “We came up with the idea when, for an earlier project, we had built a device that took pictures of laboratory samples. Normally, you then print a kind of Polaroid that you can stick into your lab journal. We found that difficult to work with, so we created a link to Google Drive that allowed us to get those photos directly digitally. It was a convenience for our own research, but when other people in the lab were impressed by it, we only realized the possibilities of such a system. Although the project with the photo machine later stopped, the idea of automating lab journals didn’t leave us.” The lab journals that Green is talking about are indispensable to research. They are logs that record exactly what a scientist does so that you can later rely on the correct results of the research. Also, anyone who wants to get a drug approved by the authorities for consumer use must be able to submit lab journals: if you don’t have accurate records, there will be no approval.