Posted on April 17, 2018 by staff

Start-up could transform science and save taxpayers millions


Around half of all scientific research is wasted due to a lack of the right recording tools, says Labstep founder Jake Schofield.

The platform lets scientists record, track and share their research in an easy-to-use way, which could end up saving taxpayers millions.

The platform came about following Schofield and his co-founder’s personal frustrations around the process when they were carrying out research.

Over half of all research results published can’t be reproduced or validated, he told BusinessCloud, and despite the experiments taking place in multi-million-pound research environments, the vast majority are still recorded on pen and paper.

“A colossal amount of money is spent on research each year – billions,” he said. “In some cases over half of the output is wasted because it can’t be reproduced.

“A huge amount of time, effort and money is wasted because the results can’t be validated so they’re effectively worthless.

“It will have a drastic effect on the scientific community if we can improve the statistics around this. There will be knock-on effects for the world at large.

“If we can make even a small percentage change it will have a big effect on the drugs and discoveries coming to market and a positive effect for the public.”

Scientists spend a lot of time trying things that don’t work, sometimes repeating experiments around 100 times, says Schofield. What is often lost are the failures, which can be key to others not making the same mistakes.

“Science is driven by tech in certain aspects but has a massive blind spot – a tool that would really benefit the process of science itself,” he said. “Labstep opens doors for collaboration and more open science, increasing the rate people can share information and drive scientific process.

“It’s a crazy environment that leads to huge amounts of frustration with scientists that means they almost fall out of love with the research process.

“If we can improve that we will have a lot more people attracted to research.”

The company is currently rolled out to 600 institutions, mostly in the US, with the goal of becoming the default platform for scientific experimentation.

The tool is designed to create a ‘recipe’ experience rather than just emulating a paper notebook or inventory management system, which is what most digital research tools until now have done.

“When you’re at the lab bench following experimental protocol it’s very much like a recipe,” said Schofield.

“It’s step-by-step, ‘add one ingredient, then the next, then incubate for 20 minutes and you get this result’.

“We help build those things run at the lab bench using built-in timers, they take pictures and you can comment on every step.

“This makes collaboration easier because when you’re carrying out work at the bench you can create a newsfeed timeline saying ‘Jake ran this at this time and got these results’.”