Back in graduate school, Penelope Jones thought she was suffering alone, a not uncommon feeling among doctorate students. She was studying electrolytes, a key part of batteries, and a portion of her experiments involved programming specialized lab equipment.
“It was awful,” she told TechCrunch+. But after talking with industry scientists her lab was collaborating with, she realized she wasn’t alone. “They were also facing exactly the same challenges as I was facing.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Jones and her collaborator Alpha Lee soon realized that the challenges they faced were a business opportunity. The pair founded Byterat, where Jones serves as CEO and Lee as CSO; the SaaS company works to streamline battery R&D by automating data collection and analysis.
“We realized that the big bottleneck that’s preventing lots of these companies from deploying best-in-class models for next generation battery designs is the lack of data infrastructure supporting this process,” Jones said.
Today, most equipment in a battery lab is hooked up to PCs running proprietary software for control and data collection. That means the disparate pieces don’t talk to each other, and scientists and engineers have to manually transfer data from each machine and copy it to a common format before they can run any analysis.
“I’ve spoken to engineers who tell me that they are spending 20% of their working week just making plots, not even doing in-depth modeling,” Jones said.