This tech startup just won a grant to help scientists share biological samples around the world

The New Technologies Grant was established in conjunction with Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch Whisky to help the next generation of innovators to solve a sustainability problem.

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Australian tech startup, Otlet has today been announced the winner of the Business Insider x Gizmodo New Technologies Grant brought to you by Glen Grant.

Otlet is a platform for biological sample sharing, enabling scientists to share or exchange samples from around the world, rather than throwing them out. Some of these samples can be used up to seven times but often get discarded rather before they can be reused.

“Scientists take roughly 94 million samples a year. The majority of those actually get thrown out because there is no efficient way for scientists to communicate who has what samples,” said CEO and Co-founder Madeline Green.

“Otlet doesn’t help just one group of animals, but all species of plants and animals.”

Not only does the platform contribute to the sustainable re-use of samples, but it saves the industry millions of dollars through more efficient sample use and reducing the need for fieldwork.

The cost of sample collection fieldwork can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on what is involved in the collection.

Collaboration matters

Green and her co-founder Lauren Meyer both specialise in studying sharks, and they found that while the scientific community was becoming more collaborative, it was slow to change.

It was a missed opportunity to collaborate and a chance meeting that sparked the business idea. During Meyer’s Honours thesis, she was unable to access critical samples for her work. Following completion, the two researchers met a fellow scientist who had a freezer full of the required samples. At the time, there was no way for the scientists to communicate what kind of samples were being held in their storage facilities. It was from this meeting that Otlet was born.

“Scientists are understanding the strength of collaborative processes and that’s what really drives me,” said Green.

Otlet is a globally targeted platform with thousands of samples already registered online. In order to grow, the platform will need millions of registrants and the duo plan to use the grant to grow awareness of the platform.

Here’s a look at what they do.

Iron Matrix was the runner up for the grant.

With Australian capital cities still among some of the least affordable housing markets in the world, Iron Matrix is helping solve problems around housing affordability and sustainable housing with their business.

“We’ve created a super strong, flat packed, solar powered home that can be built on challenging sites without any heavy machinery or scaffolding,” said co-founder Nina Hitchens.

The company is creating clean energy powered homes that are built with minimal disruption to the surrounding environment, and lower overall costs for the building. The pre-fabricated homes are clad with solar panels so that the home can be run off clean energy.

Each section of the home can be assembled in a matrix that is completely adaptable to the size and height that the customer needs. You can start with a fairly simple home and then expand the structure section by section to allow for the house to grow.

Iron Matrix’s next step is to look at getting a manufacturing robot, which would eliminate all welding labour making the home 30% cheaper than the cost of a conventional home.

See more about Iron Matrix below.

With a strong history of innovation themselves, Glen Grant wanted to support a new generation of innovators who are going to create a revolution in the next great frontier of sustainability.

The Glen Grant distillery was one of the first to design slender pot stills during the distillation process. Together with a proprietary purification process, these innovations have made possible the smooth taste of Glen Grant Single Malt Whisky.

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