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Startup Liquid Instruments raises $13.7 million for portable lab technology

Liquid Instruments combines several lab testing functions in one device.
(Courtesy of Liquid Instruments)

Company has developed a software-defined lab hardware platform that combines several testing functions in a single device

Liquid Instruments, a Solana Beach company that’s developed an 8-in-1 scientific measurement device that fits in a backpack, has raised $13.7 million in a Series B round of venture capital funding.

Founded in 2014 by a team of experimental physicists and engineers — including former researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory — Liquid Instruments makes gadgets that combine the functions of several common lab devices, each of which typically operates as a standalone , into one piece of equipment.

Its most recent product, called Moku:Go, delivers the functionality of an oscilloscope, constant temperature controller, logic analyzer, arbitrary waveform generator, data logger, spectrum analyzer and other tasks in one device.

It sells for about $500 and targets university engineering and science students.

“We were really surprised to see how much application our technology has in many different areas, including undergraduate education,” said Danielle Wuchenich, chief operating officer of Liquid Instruments. “And especially finding that students really love to use our products, which were really designed for scientists and engineers.”

The company also has a heftier, 12-in-1 tester called Moku:Lab for research institutes, universities and tech companies doing corporate research and development. Depending on the software package, the system runs from $3,500 to $10,000.

“What we have been positioning this as is a new class of hardware called Software-defined Instrumentation,” said Wuchenich. “In this industry, traditionally, you have seen a lot of beige boxes — these measurement devices that have a very specific function.

“What we’ve hit on is the recipe for the computer of this industry,” she continued, “where you have a single piece of hardware, and you can programmatically, through software, configure what instrument mode that you want the hardware to run in.”

Existing investors Anzu Partners and ANU Connect Ventures joined new investors F1 Solutions and Moelis Australia Growth Capital Fund.

Liquid Instruments previously had raised $8.1 million in January 2019.

The company employs around 50 workers, with about a third of those based in the U.S.

The remainder are rooted in Australia. Liquid Instruments was co-founded by Australian National University Professor Daniel Shaddock and Wuchenich, a former student of Shaddock’s who was living in California.

Liquid Instruments also announced that Saar Gillai, a former executive with Hewlett Packard, has been named chairman of its board of directors. Patti Key, a former sales executive at Keysight Technologies, has joined its advisory board.

“The investment, combined with Saar’s appointment as chairman of the board and Patti’s industry expertise, provides the springboard for execution on the company’s strategic vision,” said David Seldin of Anzu Partners in a statement.


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