Scientists and engineers behind Pop-Bio Imaging, a division of the Pop-Bio Group based in Cambridge, have developed an innovative new technology to carry out gel and blot imaging. Their revolutionary device is the brainchild of Paul Ellwood, Phil Atkin and Richard Maskell who identified a gap in the market after spending most of their careers in scientific digital imaging.
This technology is critical to medical research and drug development, using protein detection to discover illnesses and the effects of drugs on the human body and is used widely in life science laboratories, Universities and hospitals.
Seizing an opportunity
The team were relentless in their determination to develop and test what is now called Vü, which replaces existing 25-year old technology comprised of a CCD camera, a lens and a filter packaged inside a darkroom box.
This current technology, although dated, is widely used in laboratories to capture images of DNA gels, protein gels and chemiluminescent blots. These gel documentation systems tend to be large, expensive and use a technology which has hardly changed in 25 years.
Vü is cheaper, faster and simpler system using a new imaging technology. Images can be capture in a matter of minutes with this system by anyone with no prior experience. Images are viewed on a computer and can be sent to any device via WiFi. Moreover, as Vü is far smaller than traditional gel imaging devices (Vü weighs just 15Kgs – a significant reduction on the 57kg weight of current systems!), they can stack on top of each other, saving precious lab bench space.
How does it work?
Pop-Bio developed Vü to use no camera, lenses or filters. Instead, Vü relies on a new technology to map images at ultra-high sensitivity and resolution. There are two different systems; Vü Chemiluminescence and Vü Fluorescence.
Vü Chemiluminescence (Vü-C) uses Pop-Bio’s electronic Mapping Image Technology (eMIT), which rely on high sensitivity sensors to capture low output blots to deliver a high-quality image to phones, tablets and laptops – in just minutes.
Vü Fluorescence (Vü-F) is a gel documentation system for DNA gels or protein gels which uses either UV or blue light, with optional Blue/ Green illumination to view safe dyes, integral blue LEDs as well as traditional white light converter to view commassie and silver stain samples.
A short introduction to Vü:
Success through trial and error
The journey to launch Vü was not easy; a huge amount of time and money was invested into the project, and as with most innovations there was a great deal of risk involved.
Multiple rounds of testing and consequent developments were made to ensure the machines worked correctly and overcame technical difficulties – the exact type of activity which qualifies for government funding such as R&D tax credits, as well as Patent Box, which makes a huge difference to those innovators working on ground-breaking projects like this.
Paul Ellwood, Managing Director at Pop-Bio Imagining explained:
We knew how successful Vü could be, we had identified real opportunity and demand for the product, and we worked relentlessly for 4 years to get it to market. We worked under a huge amount of pressure with multiple setbacks along the way. Easy access to funding through MPA Group delivered vital funds which were absorbed by the project, with minimal commitment of time from us; there was really no other way we could have claimed R&D tax credits given the demands of the project.Paul Ellwood, Managing Director at Pop-Bio Imagining
What does the future hold for Pop-Bio?
Analytica, the world’s largest industry gathering in Munich this year, was the stage on which Pop-Bio unveiled their state-of-the-art devices in May. Paul commented on the reception:
I was overwhelmed with the amount of interest we had at the show. I always knew it was going to be positive but even I was amazed at the level of interest. We are having to ramp up fast - once the systems get out in the field who knows how many we might sell.Paul Ellwood, Managing Director at Pop-Bio Imagining
With this success comes their next challenge – there is now such a demand for Vü that Pop-Bio needs to ramp up production faster than expected. Funding plays a vital role here and we have worked together to plan their future and map out ways to meet market needs.
At MPA Group, we are always amazed by the work our clients are doing and are proud to play a part in their innovation. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re defining a concept or have already developed your innovation, get in touch to find out if you’re making the most of the funding options available to you.