September 5, 2022
Reinventing the bio-notebook with Amytis

Amytis: who is behind it?

My name is Eva Steele and I cofounded Amytis together with Freddie Starkey. We are both PhD researchers at the University of Edinburgh. I am the ‘resident biologist’ and Freddie is the backend engineer working on the computational side of things. Together, we are developing a digital infrastructure for bioscientists in the form of a web-based workspace.

What are you doing different, i.e. what are you doing better?

Our workspace is more intuitive, reflecting the way the human brain thinks, and the way both biological systems and biology experiments are structured. The workhorse technology is a graph database that stores data in a network as opposed to files and folders – a bit like a mind map.

How did you come up with this start-up idea?

Freddie has a computer science background and had experience in the use of graph databases in proteomics from a master’s project. But he knew how useful they could be to biological research as a whole. After a lengthy conversation of him explaining them to me I thought the best (no-code) way to give researchers access to this powerful tool would be in the form of a digital workspace. We both did iGEM together so were already comfortable working in a team, so the next step was just to start our company and get designing and developing

What funding have you recently received and how did you put it to good use?

We recently won £5,000! This was from the DDE Venture Builder Incubator – it gave us £2,000 to join, and a £3,000 prize used to hire an intern, Ben Nichol, to develop our user interface. We’ve now applied for more funding competitions and can hopefully update you soon.

There’s so many features you can include to grow Amytis, but where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

Researchers around the world will be using the Amytis Lab Workspace. Our platform is essentially a knowledge engine that also allows researchers to work together and share questions, answers and protocols immediately. This reminds me of a Nature paper I recently read, the 4th age of research, which shows that international collaborations lead to more successful publications. We want to encourage a culture shift where researchers are more open to discuss their data and their work. Given that bio-based solutions will play a huge role in tackling the world’s biggest challenges like climate change, it’s to the detriment of everyone that researchers don’t talk to each other as much as they could.

Final question - what are you most looking forward to in biotech/synbio?

I guess I naturally have a soft spot for developments in anything to do with biorefinery tech because it’s the area I am working in for my PhD. But the most honest answer is everything. A cop out, I know. But like I said biotech is going to help us to solve huge global problems, so steps forward in any area are just really exciting and interesting. It’s a really cool space to be a part of and I like reading about anything new that’s happening.

Our demo version is set to be released soon! If you are at all interested in volunteering to trial our platform, or just want to know more, please do get in touch: amytislab@gmail.com