Online portal 1DegreeBio connects 85,000 scientists worldwide. Working in a large biotechnology lab, Alex Hodgson noticed a strange duplication of cost and effort. Researchers were purchasing multiple versions of the same antibodies for their studies, because relying on a single source they could never be sure of adequate quality. “And you can’t do great research with crap antibodies,” says Hodgson.
This was the inspiration for Canadian start-up 1DegreeBio, an online resource that connects scientific researchers with high-quality suppliers across the globe. Launched in July of 2010, 1DegreeBio now boasts an online community of more than 85,000 scientific users at 230 institutions in 146 countries. Recently, with the assistance of a support program called VentureStart, they were able to add and launch a new Epigenetics Portal.
“As a result of VentureStart’s support, 1DegreeBio was able to hire a full-time graduate student and two summer undergraduate students,” says co-founder Ron Yeung. The additional staffing enabled the company to launch the new portal in partnership with the Structural Genomics Consortium, as a location where “epigenetics researchers can find products and product reviews specific to their research,” says Yeung. The portal is the first in a series of sub-sites designed to meet the needs of specific research areas. 1DegreeBio has since launched another portal called Custom Service Listings, a destination where scientists can find the best custom research service provider for their needs.
Prior to 1DegreeBio, “There was no central resource, no quality control,” says Hodgson. In fact, it’s estimated that over $1 billion was being wasted each year in purchased materials that proved to be unworthy of use in research. 1DegreeBio is an important factor in the effort to reverse this trend. It is the world’s first independent online platform where researchers can compare products by viewing their citation history, quality validation data, user reviews and community ratings.
VentureStart is funded by FedDev Ontario through the Scientists and Engineers in Business Initiative, designed to help improve the business and management skills of entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by improving access to financing and business support services to successfully launch and manage start-up businesses in southern Ontario.
Coordinated by the Research, Innovation, Commercialization (RIC) Centre in Mississauga, VentureStart provides business skills training and support services as well as up to $30,000 in non-refundable seed capital.
“We’d like to thank VentureStart for supporting 1DegreeBio and enabling us to increase our team and enhance our competitiveness in global markets”, says Yeung. It is partly through this type of support that 1DegreeBio has been able to fluidly increase its service offering to community members, rapidly turning its website into what many now refer to as the “Yelp” or “TripAdvisor” of the bioscience community.
The RIC Centre is actively looking for aspiring STEM entrepreneurs to support and mentor through the VentureStart program. If you are a STEM graduate in need of entrepreneurial support, you can visit venturestart.ca to learn more about the program. Your story might just become the next big VentureStart success.
Posted by Sue Ansell at November 26, 2012 5:45 AM
Categories: Economic development Canada Technology start-ups