Automata, a company that combines software and hardware to automate science labs around the globe, has raised $40 million in an equity-based round of funding, as the U.K.-based startup looks to double down on recent growth across Europe and the U.S.
Founded out of London in 2015, Automata in its original guise targeted myriad industries seeking to automate repetitive manual tasks using a configurable, desktop-based robotic arm dubbed Eva. However, in the intervening years the company discovered that serving smaller, individualized use cases simply wasn’t going to scale into a meaningful business. So they went back to the drawing board and identified sectors that were on the brink of an automation revolution, ones that were ripe for full — rather than partial — automation.
Thus, Automata 2.0 was born, constituting a new hardware and software stack capable of connecting and integrating the different steps involved in lab-based experimentation and testing, with a specific focus on genomics and cell biology use cases.
The Automata platform consists of a cloud-based software called LINQ, which allows users to integrate their different instruments and design, schedule and run their various workflows.
This is then combined with the robotic LINQ bench, which physically transports labware (e.g. test tubes and similar equipment) across the benchtop. The bench is modular, and thus can be configured to different lab setups, with additional robotic arms and related componentry added as required.
Ultimately, Automata is all about solving the same types of problems that automation seeks to solve in every industry: reducing tedious manual tasks, reducing error rates and increasing capacity and output — in the case of Automata, this means improving drug development and testing timelines.
Prior to now, Automata had raised around $57 million, the lion’s share arriving via its Series B round last year, and with another $40 million in the bank it’s now looking to continue on a growth trajectory that has seen it amass a fairly impressive roster of customers, including NHS Trusts in the U.K., pharmaceutical firms such as AstraZeneca and academic organizations like The Francis Crick Institute.
Automata’s latest funding round was led by U.S.-based venture capital firm Dimension, with participation from Octopus Ventures, Hummingbird, Isomer Capital, Possible Ventures, Aldea Ventures and A.P. Moller Holding — the parent company of the A.P. Moller Group, which acquired laboratory testing group Unilabs back in 2021.