Five minutes with Mark Preston, CEO and co-founder of Prismea

If you work in a lab, you’ll be interested in our latest interview with Mark Preston, co-founder and CEO of Prismea Ltd, developers of SampleSafe.app.

SampleSafe.app is for lab technicians and clinicians to track movement of samples around the lab on their phone. As Mark says, “it’s the Trello for scientists.” He used to run a laboratory so he recognises the challenges in finding and following lab samples on a day-to-day basis. “It will mean no more logbooks or unwieldy Excel spreadsheets”, says Mark, “as SampleSafe.app will track a scientific sample simply and easily through its life cycle in the lab.”

The app works through a browser on your phone or your laptop – it’s a PWA, or progressive web app, like Spotify. When the sample arrives or is created in the lab, you simply take a photo, tag it and check it in on the app. From then on, each time you – or another scientist – uses the sample it is checked in and out for full traceability. The app can be run from anyone’s phone or computer so a whole team has access to the relevant information – a visual record of the sample; where the sample is kept; results of tests, slides and reagents used. And, what’s more, all of this information is searchable and can be shared with colleagues and collaborators. An added bonus is that you can mass load thousands of samples in one hit from a spreadsheet, automatically name them and then track each one individually. “We want to help people focus on their science”, says Mark.

In the long-term, the business will work on a subscription model. The app for an individual “is the cost of a cup of coffee per month if you go for the “sharing plus” version”, says Mark. A small outlay compared to the stress of losing a sample.

Mark has had a “portfolio” career – a PhD in maths, lectured at the University of York, worked in IT, bioinfomatics and lab sequencing, for the Government and more recently was Director of Services for a start up in Cambridge. He started Prismea, a biotech software development company, with Andrew Smith in January 2020 but didn’t have his Eureka moment about the sample tracking app until April. With a quarter of a million lab scientists in the UK alone, Mark realised the potential of SampleSafe.app and he is now working on development pretty much full time – fine-tuning the useability and looking at sales distribution.

Mark and Andrew have been based at Barclays Eagle Lab since it opened in September. “It’s brilliant working out of the Eagle Lab”, says Mark, “as it has helped me with investment, mentoring and opportunities, as well as opening doors.” And he loves the position of the Wood Centre for Innovation with its surrounding woodland and proximity to Shotover.

“Every lab technician has a war story about losing samples”, says Mark. Hopefully, SampleSafe.app will overcome these. We hope so too. Good luck, Prismea!

If you are interested in finding out more about Prismea, see here.

And more information on the samplesafe.app, can be found here.

If you would like to contact Barlcays Eagle Lab, see here.

And, lastly for further information on the Wood Centre for Innovation, see:
https://www.wcfi.co.uk