Industry Insight Jun 02, 2015
It could be argued that the way scientists publish and communicate has barely changed for hundreds of years. The Protocols.io web and mobile platform aims to change this by allowing researchers to share and modify up to date protocol knowledge across the globe.
To find out more about this exciting innovation, we spoke to Lenny Teytelman, co-founder of Protocols.io.
JR: You have recently started your first partnership with a commercial force, could you tell us a bit about the development of your platform up to this point?
LT: Protocols.io is open access and free for the research community. It has to be, given the goal of creating a central place with crowd sourced and up-to-date science protocol knowledge. So, the early years of our company were insanely difficult. Building a good web and mobile platform requires capital. Since Protocols.io is free, we had to build it, get content and get scientists to use it – all before we could charge the reagent vendors a dime for the analytics surrounding their reagents. And because what we are doing is different and our business model is new, raising the capital to do this, on a promise of a revenue stream way in the future, was very challenging.
JR: How do you hope the Protocols.io platform will impact the scientific research community?
LT: There is a single hope we are obsessed with – to make research easier and faster for the scientist. We want to minimize the constant re-discovery that plagues our biomedical enterprise. The web was developed at CERN by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 to facilitate communication between academic researchers. Yet, the way scientists publish and communicate has hardly changed in 350 years. So we are striving to take advantage of the amazing web and mobile technology available today to improve the sharing and discovery of biomedical knowledge.
JR: How did your partnership with New England Biolabs (NEB) come about?
LT: In March of 2014 we ran a Kickstarter campaign for the development of Protocols.io. This was the first successful crowd funding effort aimed at scientists and it attracted a lot of attention. One of the people who noticed was Ryan Ferrell of HDMZ and he reached out with the idea that vendors have high quality protocols that belong in our platform. Ryan instantly saw that seeding the Protocols.io with popular protocols from vendors would be great for scientists, our company and the vendors. Ryan connected us to NEB.
JR: What will your next steps be to expand the reach of your platform and bring more partners on board?
LT: By far, the hardest task for a start-up like ours is to encourage the participation of the research community. There are many labs across the world that have already committed to publishing all of their lab protocols with us, and this is a key partnership. Also, in collaboration with the Hurwitz Lab at the University of Arizona, we are starting on a grant from the Gordon and Betty More Foundation to expand Protocols.io for the viral ecology community.
Lenny Teytelman was speaking to Jack Rudd, Editor for Technology Networks.