February’s Rising Star – Monika Tomecka
Monika’s company uFraction8 develops microfluidics-based filtration systems to help bio-manufacturers, who use biological cells in their production, to recover (harvest, de-water and concentrate) biomass with sustainable and scalable system outcompeting conventional filters and centrifuges. At the moment every single bio-manufacturer is forced to use inefficient filters and costly centrifuges to collect their product as there is no conjunction to reduce the costs of dewatering. At first they do pre-concentration with filters and membranes (which are cheaper to run but not very efficient) and then they’ll use centrifuge for final dewatering step (as centrifugation is more efficient but much more costly). This solution is very labour intensive and lead to product loss while product is moved in between the dewatering stages. uFraction8 developed a novel filtration system to address the need for a scalable, low energy cell harvesting solution. Using massively multiplexed modular microfluidic arrays, the power of microfluidics can be scaled to address the needs of industry. uFraction8’s solution exploits hydrodynamic effects to gently separate cells from liquid flows. uFraction8’s systems allow for a single step dewatering system, while delivering substantial energy savings, reducing labour and material transfer and, increasing yield by using a uniquely low shear flow regime. Combined, it is estimated uFraction8’s technology can save up to 75% of the primary recovery costs compared to conventional techniques.
Monika is one of the most dynamic and prolific business leaders in life sciences in Scotland. In less than two years uFraction8 has won 8 national start-up awards and Monika herself featured in the Top 20 Women to Watch in Scotland. With her business partner, Dr Brian Millar, she has managed to begin scaling the business, secure multiple collaborations and has already employed a full time project engineer. Her passion for the value their technology can provide their customers is clear in everything she does and, as a core member of Scotland’s high-growth potential Industrial Biotechnology sector, Monika is an asset to the sector.
- Ranked at the top 20 women to watch in Scotland in 2018
- AccelerateHER winner
- Scottish EDGE Higgs Award (£100,000) winner
- IChemE Global Awards 2017 Biotechnology Award 2017 Highly Commended titled
- Top10 climate friendly companies at ClimateKIC Launchpad global finals
- First TECH PLAN DEMO in UK winner
- Murgitroyd Innovator award winner
- AkzoNobel Imagine chemistry winner
- uFluidix prototyping grant winner
- Bright Red Sparks winner
- Inspire Launch Grow award winner
Organisation and Team
The team consist of three full-time members: Founder1: Dr Monika Tomecka, a biomedical PhD with experience in startup development Founder 2: Dr Brian Miller, an industrial engineer with PhD in microfluidics; Project Engineer: Ameya Vaidya, PhD in Microfluidics Founders met through the Deep Science Venture accelerator program in London in December 2016. uFraction8 is the first project which founders are working on together but it has already been proven that this team can be very successful and able to seek help when needed. The team is supported and advised by a commercial/business advisory board. uFraction8 develops microfluidics-based filtration systems to help bio-manufacturers, who use biological cells in their production, to recover (harvest, de-water and concentrate) biomass with sustainable and scalable system outcompeting conventional filters and centrifuges.
Monika’s dedication to her organisation has seen results of rapid growth and is an inspiration for women in STEM all over the country. Her affiliation with so many reputable awards speaks for itself – extremely worthy of Rising Star recognition. Congratulations Monika!