A voice for labs: How Elementa Labs transforms the future of scientific research

Corinna Herrmann

Startup Stories

Digitisation and automation of laboratories are crucial to improve efficiency and data integrity in scientific research. But until now, many labs have struggled to meet the practical needs of scientists and drive digital transformation. The startup Elementa Labs has recognised this challenge and developed a revolutionary solution. With Elementa, data collection and workflows in the lab are optimised through a highly specialised smartphone application with a voice assistant. Find out in this interview with founder and CEO Ahmed Khalil how Elementa is revolutionising the way science is done and documented and adding great value to labs worldwide.

The Elementa team: CTO Lirry Pinter (left) and CEO Ahmed Khalil (right)

How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague in a chemical company?

Elementa is the “Alexa” for scientific labs. It is a highly specialised voice assistant phone application, which integrates seamlessly with Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) and lab machinery. Accordingly, scientists are able to automate (Streamline) data collection, optimize workflows and enhance data integrity and accessibility through simple hands-free voice commands.

What problem motivated you to start the company?

As a former scientist, I had a first-hand experience with data documentation and accessibility to ELNs from the bench. I was also surprised by how many scientific labs are still fully dependent on papers to document their data, which resulted in time consuming documentation, loss of valuable data and resources. I conducted extensive research on lab digitisation and interviewed more than 250 scientists from academia and industry. My investigation showed that there is resistance or difficulty to adopt ELNs. Especially because ELNs do not meet the practical needs for scientists in the lab. That was the spark that motivated to start my journey with Elementa.

How do you convince a chemical company to set up a pilot project with you?

Elementa acts as a personal assistant for your scientists in the lab. It supports scientists on their workflows and day to day tasks. From performing calculations, locating samples, to a step-by-step guide for experimental workflows and capturing data by voice. Accordingly, Elementa can accelerate your R&D process and reduce costs through three main aspects: 

1. Eliminating repetitive and manual tasks. 

2. Reducing human-prone errors. 

3. Create more data-driven research. 

Based on our interactions with our customers and Electronic Lab Notebook partners we were able to identify and quantify the value of implementing our voice technology: 

1. Save 30% time spent on documentation and manual work.

2. 40% increase in data quality and richness. 

3. 20% increase in productivity by eliminating side task.

Additionally, when it comes to scientific labs, one size does NOT fit all. Scientific labs are highly complex and diverse environment. That’s why we built our voice technology in a highly versatile way to adapt with your lab specific needs.

Overview Elementa features 

Who is your current customer (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be? 

Currently, we are focusing on scientific labs working on early drug discovery, including industry and academia. Biomedical research, biology, cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and chemistry labs. 

We are working closely with clients within the European market, Australia, UK, Japan, and North America. Our partners portfolio includes big pharma, CROs, academia and research institutions. 

Beside the pharma industry, we are finding an increasing demand in using our voice technology in other scientific disciplines, such as Agriculture research, food and beverage, oil, and gas industry. Currently, we are pilots with 2 customers in the agriculture sector and exploring new use cases for our voice technology.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?

I believe that voice assistants in scientific labs will be a game changer of how science is being conducted and document. The need of using voice technology to improve scientific workflows efficiency and data management is increasing. We are also witnessing many use cases for implementing our voice technology in many scientific disciplines. In 3 years, we aim to be one of the change makers players in the market of lab digitisation and lab automation. Elementa will be offering various services in terms of customised voice technology with a broad range of integrations (ELNs, LIMS and IoT), serving scientific labs on a global level. One of our focus areas is Chemistry. We believe that being part of 5-HT vibrant eco-system will support us to connect with the right partners, which will help us to explore new use cases for our voice technology, improve our services and ultimately, contribute to a more efficient and sustainable science.

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