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Our investment in Automata

1 Mar 2022 By Jess McCreadie

Investment thesis 

  • The now $200bn global laboratory market has relied on human led, repetitive processes since the industry evolved, creating a bottleneck in medium and high throughput environments.
  • Covid has made the strain on labs even more evident, with around half-a-million PCR tests being processed every week in the UK alone. In response, the UK government has made significant investment into diagnostic testing facilities, as well as epidemic response infrastructure.
  • One solution lies in automating some of the manual processes necessary in diagnostics and testing labs to increase handling capacity.
  •  Automata has already successfully designed and manufactured a low-cost collaborative robot at scale. The $50m Series B, led by Octopus Ventures, will help fund scale-up and expand deployment of automation in lab workflows, in the UK and internationally.
  •  The company aims to build and further expand its solutions to become central to every lab, integrating with hardware, diagnostic tools and lab information management systems.
  • With a growing list of customers in both the NHS and private sector, we strongly believe Automata’s solutions and unique go-to-market approach have the potential to drive automation across the life sciences sector – starting with diagnostics, drug discovery and microbiology.

Who are the pioneers

Co-founder and CEO Mostafa elSayed comes from a background in architecture and design. While working at award-winning architecture practice, Zaha Hadid, he spotted the need for an automated solution to assist with bespoke manufacturing jobs. Mostafa has spearheaded the focus on putting Automata’s technology to use in the life-sciences market. He’s supported by Automata’s Head of Product, Nick Pattinson, who holds a MEng from the University of Oxford and arrived at Automata from a role as lead consultant at Newton Europe; Sven Poppelman, Automata’s Head of Engineering, whose background is in hiring engineering teams including his role as the first CTO at Farmdrop; and Doug Rich, Automata’s Head of Revenue who has a history of roles in high growth SAAS startups with hardware components to their products.

Why us

We understand that laboratories are on the cusp of a digital transformation, with slow and labour-intensive manual processes crying out for automated solutions. Our relationship with Automata dates back to 2017, and we’ve been excited to watch as they bring their solution to bear solving one of the most pressing, and exciting, problems in the life-sciences space. While the Automata team is brimming with automation expertise, Octopus Ventures is well-positioned to support them as they build out the healthcare-specific knowledge and contacts they will need to scale further.

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