Multiply Labs: robotics and automation to produce advanced medicines

Multiply Labs is a company that aims to accelerate the production of individualised and advanced medicines and transform it into an industrial process. To achieve that, they are focusing on robotic technologies and automation.

The company was founded in 2016.

It all started with Alice Melocchi, who, at that time, was a researcher in the field of advanced drugs production. She was looking for a way to accelerate and scale the entire process. She was also considering technologies from different realms, from engineering to chemistry.

One day she contacted a friend of hers – Fred Parietti, soon-to-be co-founder and CEO of Multiply Labs – to go and see his laboratory. Parietti was a mechanical engineering student at MIT. He was working on a robot, a project for which he was employing innovative technologies like 3D printing.

Alice was interested in my work because I could create prototypes swiftly, which is something unusual for the pharmaceutical industry“, said Parietti.

Soon the two future entrepreneurs fully understood the potential of robotic technology: it can improve the medicine production process. In addition, it allows to manufacture individualised products.

Parietti explained: “In that moment, the idea behind Multiply Labs was born. We decided to create robotic technologies for pharmaceutical companies that enabled them to produce advanced drugs more efficiently and on a vast scale. Until then, that process was fully handmade, especially in the case of biological or cellular therapies“.

A substantial growth

Over the last few years, Multiply Labs has obtained significant revenues, even while the company was still growing, which is something quite unusual in the pharmaceutical industry . They have also managed to build a great network of co-workers that has reached, today, almost 40 employees.

In April 2021, the company was the protagonist of a significant investment. They raised $20 million in a Series A financing round led by Casdin Capital.

Multiply Labs’s clients

Multiply Labs’s business is not addressed at start-ups or SMEs but at big companies. Among its clients are some of the most prominent realities in the pharmaceutical industry, like Thermo Fisher Scientific.

These companies already employ robots which are compatible with Multiply Labs’s features. And this is what makes these work relationships successful.

Over the years, Multiply Labs has evolved into an international company, with employees in the east and west coasts of the United States and in China, in the city of Shanghai.

Indeed, Multiply Labs has developed partnerships with American and Chinese companies.

Multiply Labs’s technology

The most important and appealing aspect of Multiply Labs’s technology is the approach with which is developed. It is also what makes the company stand out from its competitors.

Multiply Labs has built features that can be easily integrated with companies’ tools and processes that, therefore, do not need to be modified.

We use robotic systems. We also train robots to deal with pre-existing tools. Instruments that, nowadays, are used manually (for example, incubators). Therefore, we add automation to existing processes. We do not replace them. We are the only ones to do it”, underlined Parietti.

Almost all their competitors operate differently. They build machines and tools that work with new systems. Therefore, clients need to adopt new working methods to use them. This can be very challenging, expensive and time-consuming. And it can bring about several technical issues, especially for pharmaceutical companies. For instance, introducing a new environment or nutrient alters the entire process if cells are involved. 

Next steps

Last December, Multiply Labs secured a partnership with a leader company in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry. Then, they took some of their robots to a factory in Shanghai. These robots will produce drugs (capsules) following FDA‘s regulations.

Moreover, Multiply Labs has built a new generation of robots that cultivate cellular therapies. They are carrying on this programme at the University of California in San Francisco.

These advanced robots are also at the centre of a new project. Multiply Labs wants to use them to produce cellular therapies at a commercial level. The company is working to finalise these robots, which are currently in their prototype stage.