Fluxion Biosciences makes cellular analysis tools for the pharmaceutical, biotech and research industries. In this guest post, Fluxion Program Director Mike Schwartz shares how the company worked with JKI to commercialize a biotech instrument using LabVIEW in only five months. After reading this summary, you may want to read the whole case study here.
In 2007, my company, Fluxion Biosciences™, was just starting up in a shared lab on the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Our small team of scientists had designed an innovative, powerful tool to support life-saving drug development and biological research. This BioFlux™ system would provide an environment more like the human body than other experimental apparatus, and would consume a smaller amount of the substance under study. It would be able to control the flow of a fluid containing live cells, and capture and analyze details on how the cells behave in flow conditions. BioFlux would make life sciences experiments more affordable, faster and easier to conduct, and more accurate.
We knew we needed to get BioFlux out to market quickly in order for our nascent company to survive. We had prototyped the software for BioFlux in NI LabVIEW™ and we wanted to reuse and enhance that software rather than start over from scratch on a new platform. In addition to our own BioFlux instrument, the system included an NI USB-6009 DAQ board, a QImaging camera, Metamorph software for image and data analysis, and custom LabVIEW software by JKI to control the complete system.
JKI worked closely with us to build the control software, which also acquires images of the cells from a camera on a microscope and analyzes the images to count cells, calculate velocity, and observe adhesion and other properties. They took our barebones requirements and turned them into a commercial-grade software application in a very short time, freeing us up to work on other critical aspects of our business. About five months after hiring JKI, we shipped our first BioFlux system, complete with both software and hardware. It only took about four months after product release for the software to pay for itself; we were thrilled to realize such a fast ROI!
The BioFlux software is very intuitive and easy to use, which is particularly important since its users are usually biologists and researchers, not programmers. JKI designed a software user interface that is simple and straightforward, so our customers “get it” right away. In part because of its exceptional user interface, BioFlux won a prestigious R&D 100 Award the next year, an honor bestowed upon the most significant new technologies commercialized worldwide.
We love how fast JKI can turn around any changes we need to make, and our customers are impressed that we usually deliver their requested fixes and features within just a couple weeks.