Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: Labguru

Labguru has developed an “all-in-one” research-to- production software-as-a-service platform to help labs run by large corporates, research institutions, academia and startups be more productive. Its technology helps scientists design experiments and workflows, capture structured and unstructured data, manage projects, and share their work. Clients include global biopharma company GSK, Agilent, a chemical analysis, life sciences and diagnostics company, Cepheid, an American molecular diagnostics company, and Mayo Clinic. The company serves a wide variety of life sciences customers, including companies in the biotech, cosmetics, service lab and food sectors.

“Our out-of-the-box flexible platform, with its ease of use and self-service capacities, cutting-edge features and technologies, can easily become the technology infrastructure for any laboratory,” says CEO Ariel Yarnitsky.  He describes Labguru’s platform as an operating system for the lab.

The company was founded by Jonathan Gross, who now serves as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. When Gross, an Israeli scientist with a computing background. started working in a lab he was overwhelmed by the amount of data he generated regularly, and began using his programming skills to support a variety of tasks. He turned his work into a company called BioData. Several years later Holtzbrinck Publishing Group acquired BioData, the company behind the Labguru brand. Today Labguru has offices in the U.S. and Israel and more than 750 customers.

When Gross began designing Labguru’s tools many labs were still in the digital dark ages. People were using paper notebooks to record experiments and their lab activity, giving rise to reproducibility problems. About 70% of experiments could not be reproduced due to poor record keeping, says Yarnitsky. Gross’ idea was to put the data in the Cloud so that it could easily be retrieved and to digitize inventory management so that people could easily find where their experiment was stored and any material they have in the lab. LabGuru has been adding features to its research-to-production platform ever since. Readings of devices used in experiments are uploaded to the digital lab notebook in the Cloud. The devices themselves are also digitally cataloged to make it easy for researchers to manage their use via a calendar. Researchers can also use the platform to automate workflows in any aspect of their activity, including the automation of the production floor to manage batches.

“Labguru’s platform is designed to integrate smoothly with a wide range of scientific tools and devices, ensuring that your data flows endlessly across systems,” says Yarnitsky. “You can run experiments and validate them and do the whole thing on the Cloud, changing the way the lab is run. LabGuru’s customers report that the system cuts time spent on tasks like reporting, sample and inventory management by 75%.

Now the company is introducing AI into the mix, including an AI-powered lab assistant. “The assistant lives within the account,” says Yarnitksy, “so when you are doing an experiment you can ask the assistant to see if you are doing something wrong. You can also ask the assistant questions such as ‘Can you suggest the next experiment’?” Labguru is additionally adding a new feature which allows easy importing of protocols. “You can import unstructured protocol data and Labguru will easily turn it into structured protocols,” he says. The AI tools will make labs even more efficient, he says allowing optimized planning and scheduling of tasks and resources. “All of this is done automatically based on the criteria that the customer wants,” he says. “Naturally it will quickly adapt to any unplanned changes such as resource availability.”  The company’s tools also help optimize the procurement process thanks to an agreement it signed in May with Avantor, a global provider of products and services to customers in the life sciences, advanced technologies, and applied materials industries, to integrate Avantor’s Inventory Manager (IM). Avantor and Labguru’s combined solution will offer a single source for scientists to access a wide range of products when they need them at the lab bench, he said.

Labguru’s  Lab Data Management solution is also now available on the SAP Store, the digital marketplace for SAP and software partner providers. “The partnership with SAP means that our clients will be able to get QC (Quality Control) data from laboratories straight into SAP’s software,” says Yarnitsky.

In the years since Labguru was created digitizing and automating  laboratories has become a crowded field. Dozens of companies are targeting various aspects of lab management. Some like IDBS and Dotmatics are well established; others like Benchling are upstarts.

Labguru, a scale-up, says it has key differentiators. “We have a very flexible product that can mimic what they are used to, and this is super important to customers,” says Yarnitsky.  “Secondly our advanced tools, such as the automation of workflow, can be easily created by researchers themselves, so they don’t need a developer.”  Yarnitksy says the company also offers superior customer service. “Throughout the lifetime of a product customers can reach our team, which typically involves PhDs with vast bench experience, through a chat window within the application,” he says. And, he says the product sells itself. “A high percentage of our customers come from the recommendations of others,” he says.






About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.