Last week, the accelerator cohort candidates presented their tool prototypes to the selection committee at the Carnegie Institution for Science. With accessible scientific tool prototypes ranging from modular lab equipment to field research tools, the cohort candidates impressed the committee members with their ingenuity and unique perspectives. The selection committee was inspired to see tool prototypes designed to unlock scientific potential around the world from a diverse group of candidates, including students, professors, hackers, and entrepreneurs.
“As the complexity of science increases, scientific tools and instruments are becoming too complex and prohibitively expensive. While they allow scientists to probe deeper and more difficult problems, they shut out a vast proportion of the human intellectual horsepower from participating in the process for scientific discovery. Accessible tools open up our ability to engage more people — and their individual and collective knowledge — in solving the world’s most interesting and useful riddles.”
— Bilal Zuberi, Partner at Lux Capital and Tool Foundry Selection Committee Member
We are thrilled to announce the five teams joining the accelerator cohort. Their tool prototypes are designed for use in areas such as environmental testing, biomedical imaging, and microscopy — and each provides a significant decrease in cost or increase in performance compared with existing tools. The teams hail from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington.
Feles One Desktop Biolab, Feles (Boston, Massachusetts)
An all-in-one desktop biolab that integrates multiple scientific instruments, including a thermo-cycler, spectrometer, and centrifuge, to complete most molecular biology and synthetic biology experiments. Feles enables anyone to discover and invent with biotechnology.
MakeItSo, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)
An end-to-end, open-source solution for scripted, machine-driven processes that require the precision and accuracy of computer control. MakeItSo is a flexible platform for scientists to design and execute custom experiments with multiple tools.
Octopi, Prakash Lab (Stanford, California)
An open-access, modular, and high-throughput microscope that can be rapidly configured for specific applications in disease diagnosis, environmental monitoring, and research.
On-Target Cards, Access Sensor Technologies (Fort Collins, Colorado)
A credit card-sized sampling tool that enables anyone to perform fast, quantitative testing of multiple elements found in water and soil. The cards can be used to monitor any source of water, including streams, rivers, and lakes.
Spectra, Mindseye Biomedical (San Francisco, California)
A portable, open-source, biomedical imaging system that uses the same method as a CAT scan for real-time, inexpensive image reconstructions. Spectra enables anyone to explore medical physics from their own home, without expensive hospital equipment.
The Tool Foundry accelerator, created with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Schmidt Futures, emphasizes education and collaboration to help inventor teams strengthen their tools and build a foundation for sustainable growth. Over the next four months, the cohort teams will work one-on-one with mentors and participate in learning modules presented by experts in user-centered design, sustainable business modeling, and commercialization strategy.
The accelerator will provide virtual and in-person opportunities to collaborate, share expertise, and learn from fellow cohort members. The teams will also participate in the Tool Foundry Boot Camp, to be held August 20-21 at the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco, in partnership with Autodesk Foundation. In November, the cohort teams will present their tools at a celebratory Tool Foundry Showcase.
A selection of accelerator resources will be posted online for the benefit of the broader accessible tools community. Subscribe to the Tool Foundry Journal to follow the cohort’s progress and be the first to receive updates.