Below we helped Cryogatt discover what they could claim back for their extensive technological and software research and development. Find out the full story below:
Founded in 2010, Cryogatt was set up to develop new technologies to label, track and audit the type of biological samples stored cryogenically for use in human biology research. It's an incredibly demanding and important field, making Cryogatt a perfect candidate for the UK government's R&D tax credit scheme.
Cryogenic storage is essential to many kinds of biological research , from stem cells to fertility treatment. By cooling samples down to -196 C in an atmosphere of liquid nitrogen, they can be placed into "suspended animation", neither growing nor dying. Alternatively, storing at -80 can slow the growth of, for example, skin cancer samples without halting it entirely. In either case, it's a complex process, requiring layers of protection to prevent the samples from being destroyed. Stem cells are stored in vials, which are then stored in boxes, placed on racks and housed inside giant vacuum flasks. Huge numbers of samples are stored together, with a typical stem cell "bio bank" housing 3-4 million at a time. Each sample must be catalogued individually to prevent it being lost or misidentified, and the smallest mistake can lead to disaster later on.
Designing a system to keep track of all the samples in storage is a huge undertaking in itself, but Cryogatt decided to go further. The system they were imagining would allow samples to be identified without ever removing them from their freezers - a serious step forward in keeping them safely preserved and precisely arranged. Using new RFID tag and reader technologies, and a complete suite of software to manage the information, Cryogatt set out to make a difference.
The Problem To Solve
Misidentification of samples stored cryogenically is a huge problem, with estimated errors in as high as 11% of cases. Cryogatt found a few reasons for this:
The vapour or fog inside a vacuum flask can cause frosting around the vial itself. With 2D bar or colour coding in these conditions, labels can accidently be removed, misread or can simply fall off.
When vials are removed, the poor visibility and sheer numbers involved mean it can be very difficult to put every single sample back in the exact same place.
Auditing samples (often annually) takes weeks, with the constant risk of human error at every stage.
The scale of the job can be vast, with many bio banks containing "legacy stock" of vials dating as far back as the 1950s to be catalogued.
Cryogatt's ultimate goal was a whole new way of handling the enormous amounts of data involved in cryogenic storage on the kind of scale seen in bio banks and similar facilities. This means cutting the inefficiencies, costs and risks of current systems with hands-off RIFD technology and flawless, software-based auditing systems. At the same time, eliminating the manual handling also protects the samples themselves from damage. It's innovation with a far-reaching impact, and exactly what RIFT R&D is all about.
Outcome of the Project
The Cryogatt system has been installed at the UK National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, and is going through extensive testing. It's attracting a lot of interest already from a variety of organisations and sectors. An independent verifier has estimated the total global market for the system to be over £20 billion across human, animal and other biological fields. Right now, Cryogatt is the only company in the world able to offer this innovative RFID technology.
“Here at Cryogatt, we are extremely proud of our RFID tagging system which is helping the medical sector with accurate management and tracking of vast amount of vials. We were even more delighted when we found out we could claim some of our innovation costs back from the Government. RIFT Research and Development made the process of claiming these costs back very simple and easy with minimal disruption to our business. The team is very professional and very easy to deal with" Malcolm Hunt, Chairman, Cryogatt Systems”
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