There is a lot of interest in the EggSorter
Bionomous | 28.03.2023

The EggSorter, which is designed and assembled in Switzerland, combines artificial intelligence with Bionomous’ robotics expertise.

Bionomous is a contraction of ‘biology’ and ‘autonomous systems’, and is the name of a start-up which builds devices that automate processes used in life science research. A few weeks after the launch of its first product, the EggSorter, in December 2022, Bionomous, which is based at Le Vivier Technology Park, announced that it had raised USD 2.7 million in funding that will allow the start-up to scale its production. Interview with Frank Bonnet, CEO and co-founder of Bionomous.

It has been a pretty intense time for you lately, what with the successful product launch and funding round. How are you feeling?

There are not enough hours in the day, but spirits are still high! (laughs). In December 2022, our EggSorter was granted CE certification. This was after a year spent perfecting the beta version which we gave to around 20 partners to use. We thought that the feedback and results would be good, but the launch of the final product exceeded all our expectations. We currently have seven machines on the market and are working on several orders. There is a lot of interest in the EggSorter even from outside our original target market.

What does that mean?

Our device was originally designed to automatically filter, sort and distribute zebrafish eggs, whose embryos are increasingly used in scientific research. I suppose you could say they are ‘laboratory mice 4.0’! Most universities in Switzerland and around the world have adopted this model and now have their own fish labs. At the same time several potential customers from outside this promising niche market approached us with ideas for other uses and outlets, especially industry. With a few adjustments, the EggSorter is perfectly capable of processing other small biological entities like frogspawn or flower seeds. There is huge potential but we have to be careful not to spread ourselves too thin!

Mechatronics, automation and artificial intelligence: the EggSorter is the ultimate Industry 4.0. product…

Our innovative solution clearly meets a need to automate and standardise processes that are long and tedious for humans. Most of the technology, especially for the robotics part, comes from the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). We have added an artificial intelligence overlay so that the sorting algorithms can improve their performance autonomously.

In spring 2022, Bionomous moved to the Le Vivier Technology Park, which is a hub of engineering and industrial innovation. Why?

The site has the perfect mix of established companies and fast-growing start-ups like ours. There is a great deal of interaction between firms, and we really benefit from their presence, as well as the Park’s infrastructure, which makes production, logistics and certain administrative processes much easier. My team particularly appreciates the natural and quiet surroundings. So do I! I even live nearby now!

What are your hopes for the coming months?

That we can meet the high demand. This means that we now find ourselves in a major growth phase, and will be soon expanding our production, sales and maintenance teams. Although we already have customers in China and Australia, we initially want to concentrate our energies on the European and American markets. We also have plans to open a subsidiary in the US by 2024