Automata raises $40 million to commercialize robotic lab bench

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Life sciences Technology automated system

The U.K. startup Automata Technologies has bagged $40 million in a funding round to expand its workforce and the geographic reach of its life sciences lab automation technology.

The round was led by the investment firm Dimension with participation from A.P. Moller Holding, which owns the diagnostics firm Unilabs. Automata’s existing investors also took part in the round, including Octopus Ventures, Hummingbird, Isomer Capital, Possible Ventures and Aldea Ventures.

Automata plans to use the money to expand the commercialization of its lab automation platform. One part of the platform is the Automata LINQ bench – a lab bench-sized system using robotic lab instruments to carry out automated workflows. Another part is Automata LINQ Cloud – software helping users to design and coordinate routine lab tasks.

The technology is designed to reduce the time it takes to carry out drug development and testing procedures, and to reduce costs and human errors associated with these activities. The system is geared towards use by customers including research institutions, contract research organizations (CROs), hospital groups, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

“The modern lab is a data factory, requiring precise coordination across a suite of lab instruments juggling multiple protocol runs. As a result, the industry needs a lab automation system that is built with an emphasis on speed, reliability, reconfigurability, reproducibility, and scale,” said Nan Li, co-founder and managing partner of Dimension in a public statement. “Automata's modular software and hardware LINQ system delivers just that and we're thrilled to partner with them to build a category-defining business in this space.”

Automata first kickstarted its expansion and commercialization with a $50 million Series B funding round in January 2022. The expansion was initially focused on customers in Europe and the U.K. until Automata began its U.S. expansion earlier this year.

According to the company, Automata’s revenue has soared by 150% since the Series B round. Examples of its customers include The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the Francis Crick Institute, AstraZeneca and bit.bio.

"The last two years have been hugely exciting at Automata as we’ve seen LINQ increase the scale of customer workflows as well as meaningfully increasing their ability to generate high quality data - accelerating their pace of discovery and experimentation,” said Automata’s founder and CEO, Mostafa Elsayed, in a public statement.

As life sciences research continues to expand, many firms are finding it increasingly difficult to find laboratory real estate and research talent. This is leading to increasing interest in lab automation technology, which had a global market of around $4.9 billion in 2022, according to a report​ from Coherent Market Insights. The report predicts an annual market growth of 4.9% until 2030, when it could total more than $7.2 billion.

Some of the important players in the lab automation market include large vendors such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and QIAGEN in addition to smaller companies including Reshape Biotech and accroma.

According to Automata, many automation platforms require large amounts of space in the lab and can be difficult to use and scale. For this reason, the LINQ bench is designed to fit in the same space as a typical lab bench, making it easier to implement the technology in a life sciences lab.

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