Why Should You Take an ELN With You on Your Latest Biotech Startup Venture?


Starting up a new biotech is very exciting but challenging at the same time.

After toiling for many years on your research, you’ve now identified the big 21st century problem that you can solve. You have innovative, unique science ready to be shared with the world, a secure IP position and have identified a number of industry experts to mentor you and help you get started. Most importantly, you’ve found investors that believe in you and your ideas and with this initial funding it’s time to get to work.

Now the myriad logistical challenges start and as an entrepreneur you will find yourself with important questions to address – where will you find lab space? What equipment do you need and where will you source it? How do you recruit and onboard your first employees, and how do you make sure they get paid? How do you set-up a basic IT infrastructure? Are CROs the answer, and if so, who and how?

Amid the rush to get the basics in place so the important work can begin, introducing an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) may not seem a priority for you. After all, many startups that have gone before you have survived, at least in the short term, by capturing their experiments with Excel spreadsheets, and using SharePoint and email to collaborate in house and with CROs. However, speaking from experience there are in fact clear reasons why Excel & email might not be the best choice for you right now, whilst in the past it may well have been assumed to be the pragmatic choice to ensure rapid set-up.

Legacy ELNs have often been too complex and costly to evaluate, acquire, install, configure and maintain for a start-up, given all the other basic logistics competing for attention and no dedicated IT or scientific staff to devote to the task. But what if I could tell you that getting started with an ELN was as simple as deciding whether to run the company on Google Docs or Office 365? The latter is almost certainly one decision you will make right at the beginning, and thanks to its cloud offerings, it is now as easy as signing up via the Google or Microsoft websites, getting your credentials and then almost immediately logging in to your company’s new email and online office systems.

Dotmatics’ quick start platform is designed to make it just that simple to add an ELN to your infrastructure from day one. Once signed up, you are provided with logins to your company’s specific, secure project within eln.online. There, you will have accounts for all of your users and access to standard templates for chemistry and general discovery to capture an unlimited number of experiments, with nothing to install or maintain. We’ll also provide a couple of quick training videos to ensure you and your team are able to start capturing and collaborating with each other on your experiments immediately.

So, if it is this easy to start with an ELN, the question is why would you settle for a compromise like spreadsheets, reports and email even for a short while? It’s important to realize that:

  • However secure the document storage and email service, you will be putting your IP at risk unnecessarily, and when you are later called upon by a potential licensing partner or involved in M&A discussions and are asked to provide a full audit trail for your IP, you simply won’t have it.

  • Your scientists will waste valuable time creating documents and then trying to find data in them, especially given that a startup can generate a tremendous amount of data in a very short time.

  • Manual transcription of data into documents inevitably leads to human error and copies proliferate, meaning that there is quickly no single source of truth and you could easily end up making critical decisions on bad or stale data.

  • And finally, as you grow and continuously on-board new staff, teaching them the mysteries of the “main spreadsheet” (let alone all its copies) will be an ever-greater burden to them becoming productive quickly.

Not only will Dotmatics get you up and running straight away, but it is also your springboard to expansion, designed to grow with you. The eln.online solution uses the exact same ELN that powers Dotmatics Studies Notebook, which is now used by hundreds of research organizations and thousands of scientists worldwide ranging from small biotechs to enterprise scale deployments at global pharma companies and some of the world’s largest research CROs. When you feel ready, it is easy to transition to a full installation of Dotmatics including the ELN but also registration, assay data management, data automation and scientific data analytics.


So congratulations on your new venture, we wish you every success and are here to support you through your startup journey.

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