Customizing Digital Lab Experiences With Ease

An interview with eLabNext Co-founders Erwin Seinen, Ph.D., and Wouter De Jong, Ph.D
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May 2, 2022
Erwin Seinen, Ph.D. (left) and Wouter De Jong, Ph.D. (right)

Limited access to laboratory tools that also made data collaboration difficult, spurred two entrepreneurs to create a next-generation informatics company called eLabNext.  We’re delighted to welcome such forward-looking partners to the Tetra Partner Network and to share our recent conversation with eLabNext co-founders, Wouter De Jong, Ph.D., and Erwin Seinen, Ph.D.

Before we talk about your company and products, please tell us about your backgrounds, how you met, and why you decided to create eLabNext.

Wouter: 

My background is in the field of molecular microbiology. I did my Ph.D. at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), where I worked on the molecular mechanism controlling the regulation of the developmental cycle of streptomycetes. Stretomycetes are peculiar bacteria as their life cycle very much resembles that of filamentous fungi. I studied  how the formation of aerial hyphae is controlled.

Erwin

As an early entrepreneur in digital platforms in the early years of this millennium, I’ve always been fascinated by how digitalization was able to massively improve everybody’s lives.  An equal amount of fascination existed for the life sciences, in which I’ve completed my masters and PhD on the topic of medical genetics and bioinformatics during those same early entrepreneurial years. 

While working as PhD students, we both shared the experience of limited access to tools that would help us to efficiently work in the lab and collaborate with our data.

While working as PhD students, we both shared the experience of limited access to tools that would help us to efficiently work in the lab and collaborate with our data. After completion of our PhDs, we decided to start eLabNext (Bio-ITech B.V.) and work on building a platform to help streamline the documentation of research data in the lab. 

‍What is your philosophy on the importance of an open ecosystem in laboratories? How does this differ from open source?

Researchers adopt digital solutions, such as electronic lab notebooks or inventory management systems, with the intention of optimizing and centralizing their daily work in the lab. Often, the daily lab experience entails the organization of samples, equipment, and data; collaborating with colleagues or across departments; or reporting on the research done. Having an open ecosystem is really important in being able to achieve this. Every lab works with a different set of devices, products, and services. 

In an open ecosystem, the integration of these third-party products and services labs can be facilitated, such that customers can tailor their digital by connecting and installing apps of their user services in the lab.

To be most efficient, the ability to interconnect all physical and digital products used by scientists in the lab is vital. In an open ecosystem, the integration of these third-party products and services labs can be facilitated, such that customers can tailor their digital by connecting and installing apps of their user services in the lab. In this way, an open ecosystem allows laboratories to future proof the growth of their organization by allowing present and future scalability of the tools used in their daily lab workflows. 

Open ecosystem differs from open source in its availability to the public and how (and by whom) the system is managed. Open source is software for which the original source code is freely available to the public so that anyone may download, modify, use, or redistribute to the world. eLabNext’s open ecosystem provides users with a separate layer from the original code which makes it both structured and easy for tools to be developed and utilized within eLabNext. 

How has your belief in an open ecosystem driven your product development decisions? 

Absolutely, we strongly believe that as a software company, we would never be able to build a solution that would be completely suitable for all research and development labs. With any generic solutions you would be able to get to serve the general needs of any customer up to 80-85%. The remaining 15-20% is what makes every lab unique and requires a streamlined interplay between products and services in the lab. 

We have a rich API as well as a Software Development Kit (SDK), that enables customers or partner third party vendors to build and tailor the software to their needs or create connectors to their services.

With eLabNext, we significantly invested in the past two years to build the foundation that allows third-party integration. We have a rich API as well as a Software Development Kit (SDK), that enables customers or partner third party vendors to build and tailor the software to their needs or create connectors to their services. In addition, customers with a private cloud or on-premises installation are able to benefit from these add-ons by connecting their system to a public repository. 

What is the value of being part of the Tetra Partner Network?

Having an open ecosystem means that partnering relevant parties that operate in the life science industry is critical. Therefore, being part of the Tetra Partner Network is important to us as Tetra Science plays an important role in connecting data streams coming from different systems.  

What kinds of problems do your products solve and for whom (what types of customers)?

Our lab management software helps elevate research for modern life scientists across industries and academia of all sizes and stages. A truly customizable and centralized platform for every step of research and development. 

As well as a team of friendly lab digitization experts that complete the research digitization process with their support and accountability. 

Tell us more, please, about your eLAb Marketplace and how customers are using it to solve problems in their labs. 

eLab Marketplace is partially how eLabNext delivers an open ecosystem to its users. Our team works daily to update existing as well as launch new add-ons and applications to the Marketplace. These tools allow users to extend the functionality of their digital lab according to their research wants and needs. 

Apart from general productivity and reporting tools developed by our own team, we work with third parties to develop tools. Our clients will sometimes develop their own add-ons using our freely available SDK and API. 

Apart from general productivity and reporting tools developed by our own team, we work with third parties to develop tools. Our clients will sometimes develop their own add-ons using our freely available SDK and API. 

Every lab is unique and science changes rapidly. How do you respond quickly to emerging customer needs?

  1. Continuous updates. By listening to our customers and applying their feedback on a regular basis in the form of weekly updates to further improve our platform. 
  2. Friendly experts. From DevOps to account manager, almost all of our team have life science backgrounds. We put a lot of emphasis on the friendly experts that make up our team because their backgrounds provide the necessary perspective to work with fellow scientists and ensure their needs are met. 

The eLabNext open ecosystem. We believe every unique lab requires software solutions that fit their workflow rather than the other way around. That’s why we believe and strive for an open ecosystem.

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