Scientific innovation through research is critical for helping us navigate the ever-changing world around us. Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) is a centralized research laboratory facilitating remote experimentation from anywhere in the world. As research moves from the workbench to the internet, ECL is at the forefront of this transition, aiming to create a future generation of scientists who are not restricted by finances or location. Thanks to its contributions to life sciences, which will undoubtedly result in the acceleration of scientific discovery, ECL has won Most Comprehensive Life Science Research Lab, Western Europe, in the GHP Global Excellence Awards 2023.
Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) defined the term “cloud laboratory” by becoming the first remotely operated research facility where scientists can run all their daily experimentation from anywhere in the world, using nothing more than their computer and an internet connection. This includes method design, material logistics, sample preparation, instrument operation, data acquisition, troubleshooting, waste disposal, and other tasks involved in experimentation. While many emerging businesses claim to be fully-fledged cloud laboratories, very few have the vast capabilities of ECL.
With more than 200 categories of instruments, the laboratory enables scientists to remotely run almost any experiment they want. Using the secure, user-friendly software interface, scientists can design their experiment without restriction. Samples can be as small or large as the user needs, ranging from microunits to litres and kilograms. When the experiment is sent to ECL, every detail of the process is recorded thoroughly, and results are delivered promptly. Enabling scientists to run multiple experiments at all hours without having to manage their own laboratory means they can spend more time analyzing their data and designing novel experiments.
With a particular focus on biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, ECL supports a wide range of different research disciplines, including analytical chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry, chemical biology, bioorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Soon, it will be able to add cell biology, organic chemistry, synthetic chemistry and medicinal chemistry to this list.
From the very beginning, scientists have been and continue to be the focus of ECL, its vision being to give scientists access to tools that enable better and faster research. This is what has allowed ECL to gain and maintain its leadership position, even as new cloud laboratories emerge into the field. ECL was founded by two scientists, Brian Frezza and DJ Kleinbaum. While running their first start-up, Emerald Therapeutics, their research plan was more expensive that its budget allowed, so they turned to automation for the solution. Working with a team of scientific developers, trained in coding, they were able to automate the majority of laboratory work and saved both time and money. Over time, the tools allowed scientists to step away from the laboratory entirely. Founded by two scientists who understand what it’s like to be restricted by budget, ECL’s goal is to prevent scientists from being held back by lack of access to tools and space, ultimately aiming to increase the diversity of scientists and allow more life-changing discoveries to be made.
As a result, ECL was established based on three core values, which it continues to prioritize every day. These are democratization, reproducible experimentation, and operational efficiency. The company aims to democratize scientific discovery by providing scientists worldwide with access to state-of-the-art facilities for a monthly subscription fee comparable to the cost of one piece of equipment. This makes experimentation accessible to those who do not have the funds to maintain a laboratory themselves.
To ensure that the results of experiments conducted in ECL are reproducible, each step is recorded and validated, and samples are photographed, measured, and stored. Experiment parameters are communicated directly from ECL’s unified software interface, the Command Center, to the laboratory’s instruments. Protocols must run the same way, every time, in order to ensure repeatability. In terms of operational efficiency, ECL separates experimental design and analysis from logistics, resulting in a 300% to 500% increase in efficiency for industry groups that now use ECL.
Thanks to the benefits of cloud laboratories, the way in which scientific research is conducted is changing. Carnegie Mellon University became inspired to develop its own cloud laboratory when it used ECL to continue its research throughout the most restrictive periods of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, ECL has partnered with the university to build the first cloud laboratory in an academic setting using ECL software. The laboratory will allow researchers to conduct experiments online and, once completed, it will provide a platform for experimentation using artificial intelligence. Throughout the project, ECL will provide input on the design and construction of the facility, the installation of equipment, and the management and operation of the laboratory.
ECL sets itself apart from competitors by being the pre-eminent company of its kind, with thought leadership which continues to define what it means to be part of the industry. Its work with Carnegie Mellon University will shape the direction of how life sciences are conducted in academia and business, bringing forth a generation of scientists who are not restricted by physical location, finances, or the size of their operations. In this, we are likely to see innovations that may not have happened without cloud laboratories.
As cloud laboratories develop, the life science industry has become increasingly aware of the importance of advancements in biosecurity as new techniques and methods are carried out in research and development. Cloud laboratories offer increased biosecurity to protect access to research and the data produced. As ECL continues to increase the scale and breadth of its offering, its goal is to utilize technology to accelerate the rate of scientific advancements while ensuring that the level of security is maximised.
Demonstrating its high level of security, ECL controls who has access to the command center application for experiments in the cloud lab, which is tracked by unique user IDs for all customers on the system. ECL offers a higher level of security than a traditional laboratory by tracking and storing all details, including chemicals, consumables, actions, processes, and results. All experiment details are kept confidential, but the system continuously runs checks to ensure the laboratory is being used responsibly and that nothing dangerous or illegal takes place.
Moving forwards, ECL aims to demonstrate that security in laboratory experimentation is enhanced, not compromised, by the cloud. As the originator of the concept of cloud laboratories and leader in the industry, ECL defines the general traits and promotes the essential security characteristics of cloud laboratories.
Due to its ground-breaking technological achievements, Emerald Cloud Lab is 2023’s winner of Most Comprehensive Life Science Research Lab, Western Europe, in the GHP Global Excellence Awards. There is no doubt that the company has changed the lives of many scientists and will continue to do so, facilitating them in making life-changing discoveries through research.
For further information, please visit www.emeraldcloudlab.com