This summer, University of Amsterdam (UvA) start-up Confocal.nl will begin marketing the first-ever microscope with a plug-and-play feature. Specifically, its rescan module offers super-resolution imaging for an even sharper focus on living cells. The underlying method consists of linking two optical scanners to a standard microscope.
Confocal.nl scientific founder and UvA researcher Erik Manders explains: 'Microscopy has aided our understanding of cell biology for decades, but we believe the existing confocal microscope is inadequate for charting complex molecular interactions. At Confocal.nl, we are pursuing innovative ideas on new forms of microscopy.'
In a confocal microscope, also known as a laser scanning microscope, a laser beam is used to scan successive layers of a specimen, resulting in images that are stored digitally in 3D form. The new microscope offers a resolution and sensitivity exceeding most confocal microscopes and will be marketed as an affordable, customised alternative. In addition to this new microscope, Confocal.nl has also set its sights on superresolution technology, representing a major step forwards in the study of living cells. The new microscope uses a patented technology developed at the UvA's Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences with funding from STW, a Dutch technology foundation.
Confocal.nl receives funding support from the Innovation Exchange Amsterdam (IXA) and UvA Holding BV. Established as a spin-off within UvA Holding BV in February 2016, the company's founders are Erik Manders, a researcher at the UvA, and Peter Drent, former general manager at Nikon Instruments Europe.
The New Ventures division of UvA Holding BV is dedicated primarily to guiding university projects on their way to becoming successful and scalable businesses. New Ventures invests in start-ups with an innovative technology, enterprising team, sound business model and positive societal impact.
The IXA is a centre of expertise that supports Amsterdam-based researchers in transforming their invention, idea or research result into a concrete application. In particular, it provides support for collaboration with partners such as businesses, civil-society organisations and investors that can realise their ideas.