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Science as a Service: Robot Lab Aims to Accelerate Research

Transcriptic has raised $6 million from Founders Fund, Google Ventures, Mark Cuban and others.

Transcriptic, the Silicon Valley startup that generated early buzz for building a robot-operated scientific lab, is launching an updated version of its service that allows scientists to design and run customized experiments.

The company claims its remote, automated lab enables a 10-fold productivity boost, while allowing scientists to maintain precise control over their outsourced experiments.

Late last month, Emerald Therapeutics kicked off an “outward-facing beta trial” of a similar product. Transcriptic says the company’s new platform supports a broader array of experiments than its rival.

Both portray their offerings as a cloud-based approach to science, allowing users to avoid the considerable investment of lab equipment and set up much of the experiment online. But obviously a lot of the real work still occurs in the physical realm, entailing shipped samples, freezers, pipettes, robotic arms and more.

Transcriptic also disclosed it has raised $6 million in funding to date from AME Cloud Ventures, Data Collective, Founders Fund, Google Ventures, IA Ventures and individual investors Naval Ravikant and Mark Cuban. It raised a $1.2 million seed round from several of those participants at the end of 2012.

Early paying customers include Stanford, Harvard, Caltech and UC Davis.

“Transcriptic’s mission is to provide the infrastructure necessary to lower costs, improve reproducibility and allow researchers to do the projects that right now they can only wish they could run,” said Max Hodak, the company’s chief executive, in a statement. “Transcriptic frees up researchers to focus on the creative aspects of scientific discovery that drive important medical advances and make critical discoveries possible.”

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