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The start of RinoCloud

What happens when scientists get together?

Rinocloud is a team of physicists, biologists, chemists, environmental scientists, electronic engineers and programmers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, University of Granada and the Tyndall National Research Institute. Team members have access to some of the best labs in the world with some of the most sophisticated instrumentation and lab automation software available. Yet we still found ourselves wasting valuable time trying to figure out optimum ways to manage data being generated from our experiments and simulations.

Take experiments, for example. Instrument software has to be configured to generate the data. This has to be interfaced to lab automation software for data analysis. The data in turn has to be configured and formatted for saving in folders in local workstations and servers - and then copied to generic cloud storage, mainly Dropbox and Google Drive. Add to this the time needed to pull all the data back from the cloud, organise it with locally stored data and then format it again so that it can be analysed by local applications. It’s not efficient!

Rinocloud: scientists data hub

  • A seamless storage hub for scientific data.
  • Cloud based that can be searched, shared and secured the way scientists need it.
  • Integrates with incumbent systems; lab automation and data analysis software.
  • Built on the user familiarity of generic solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Notebook, plotting, collaboration features intrinsic.
  • Set up in minutes.

Well, we specced and built the software based on a minimalist view of what was the Most Viable Product. We asked colleagues and friends to comment and give feedback. Three hundred volunteered to beta test for us. We now have the software running in Cambridge, Tyndall, MIT, Oxford and in universities in Spain and Japan. Not only is it working - it’s exceeding expectations and scientists are clamouring to get access. It’s solving problems that our users struggle with every day. It’s dealing with inherent inefficiencies that cost projects, funders and labs money; through inefficient use of researchers time; through less than optimal collaboration; through data getting lost or deleted; through not meeting audit and regulator standards.

It’s helping sweat lab assets by getting the most out of investment in personnel and equipment – by efficiently organizing their outputs – data. It’s meeting funders needs for audit ability. It’s meeting regulators needs for open access standards.

Over the coming weeks we will be significantly increasing the numbers of beta users. We’re trying to get a cross section of different scientific disciplines and we’re looking for experimentalists and theorists. If you want to try the software just enter your email details and as soon as a slot opens up we’ll email you with instructions.

Helena is an Environmental scientist and graduate of the University of Granada and ex Institute of Water. She is one of the founders of Rinocloud. She’s managed large multidisciplinary projects, lots of PhDs and postdoc teams and learned to deal with the lots of different ways they manage their data.