Scottish Startup Founded By Nigerian Secures £1.2M Investment

Research and Development (R&D) outfit RAB-Microfluidics, founded in 2016 by Nigerian Dr. Rotimi Alabi and spun out of Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, last week said it has raised £1.24 million in an investment round led by Eos Advisory along with London-based Newable Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, and existing investors.

The microfluidic technology start-up is building what it calls “laboratory on a chip” technology through which it offers oil analysis to businesses in a way that dramatically reduces maintenance and repair costs for heavy equipment.

Oil samples from heavy machinery such as pumps and generators can be analysed on-site instead of being shipped to onshore laboratories. With this, operators are able to assess how machinery is performing and when maintenance is required.

The fresh investment will help the startup strengthen its team and further develop its product roadmap as it enters its next phase of growth, the company said. The plan is to launch the product in early 2022, as well as increase the workforce.

“RAB-Microfluidics has identified that businesses who own and operate lubricated heavy machinery have a significant challenge around how the conditions which ensure the reliability of such machines are monitored.

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“We are revolutionising oil testing and analysis services by making conventional laboratory procedures mobile, rapid, and routine. We do this by delivering oil analysis more than one thousand times faster and around ten times cheaper than the current approach that is based on sending oil samples to laboratories,” Founder and chief executive Dr. Alabi said.

Ph.D. project turn award-winning business

RAB-Microfluidics was formed by Alabi, a graduate of Igbinedion University in Nigeria, Coventry University, and the School of Geosciences at Aberdeen.

The Nigerian developed the idea while working on his Ph.D. alongside two others and later turned it into a business idea.

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Alabi was supported through the University’s ABVenture Zone to get the business up and running. The business has since won a host of high-profile investment awards in recent years. 

In 2017 Alabi was awarded a prestigious NERC Enterprise Fellowship – valued at £90,000 – by the Royal Society of Edinburgh based on his idea. A year later, RAB-Microfluidics was chosen for the TechX Pioneers accelerator programme run by OGTC in Aberdeen.

Booming Energy-Tech Industry

Since founded five years ago, RAB-Microfluidics has managed to build an impressive British and global customer base across industries – from maritime, renewable wind, other power generation, to aerospace and defence, processing and manufacturing, oil and gas, and transport.

Oil and gas companies particularly are increasingly turning to tech startups like RAB-Microfluidics to help streamline operations and boost efficiencies, a trend that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc in the global energy industry.

With industry players pressured by consistently low oil prices, high operating costs, and billion-dollar write-offs, companies are seeking opportunities for savings on capital expenditures as well as selling, general, and administrative operating costs.

Recent partnerships between tech and energy giants include Microsoft’s with Exxon and Chevron; Google parent company Alphabet’s deal with Schlumberger and Amazon Web Services’ digital services to the industry through its oil and gas division. It counts among its clients BP and Shell.

The trend is set for further growth with some estimates suggesting that the addressable market for digital oil and gas solutions could grow 500 percent over the next four to five years, saving oil producers roughly $150 billion over the same period.

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