HackScience: Bringing research to the world faster

About this idea

The Problem:

Academic researchers spend huge amounts of time doing laborious tasks by hand when they could be focusing on breaking new ground in science. With over 13 million scientific researchers globally, this is a huge issue.

The cost of existing automated systems are just too high for researchers( up to £250,000!), leaving them no choice but to spend hours a day working by hand.

But it doesn’t have to be this way any more - thanks to the Maker Movement, affordable hardware now exists to create fully automated systems at a fraction of the cost. The issue is, most researchers aren’t engineers and don’t have experience building their own systems.

The Solution:

To remedy this, HackScience experimented by running a lab automation hackathon at Imperial College. We brought together teams of engineering students and researchers and provided them with basic training.

The result was incredible - 9 novel automated lab tools, some of which can save a researcher up to three hours a day and hundreds of thousand of pounds in research areas such as Cancer, Malaria and Solar to name a few.

Hackathons, however, don’t scale well - so how can we scale this idea of cheap automation to as many researchers as possible?

The Product:

HackScience is building a platform to enable students and researchers to overcome common barriers that stand in the way of building automated lab tools. This will facilitate the creation of a new wave of cheap and fully automated lab systems.

This will also serve as a marketplace so innovators who do build their own automated tools,  can share them with other researchers to harness in their research.

£20,000 and Jisc’s support will enable HackScience to develop our platform to the stage where innovators can easily build and promote their lab automation tools.

The Team:

Ali Afshar is a PhD student at Imperial College London researching Printable Solar Cells. He’s also had experience running a hardware startup and building automated lab systems.

Ignacio Willats was a recent MSc student at Imperial and has experience in Product Management at FinTech and EdTech startups. He’s also run numerous hackathons for the likes of the NHS and Jisc.

Learn more at http://hackscience.io/