On March 1st, Hugo Villanueva from the UCL branch of Innovation Forum interviewed Tobias Wingbermuehle, Co-Founder of the online platform Clustermarket.
You are a co-founder of Clustermarket, what can you tell me about your company?
Clustermarket is an online marketplace helping scientists, engineers and other technology pioneers access equipment and services they need for their research and business. Universities, other research institutions and businesses offer the equipment and services listed on Clustermarket. The idea is based on the sharing economy concept and supports innovation by utilising existing resources more efficiently.
How did your background help you to build Clustermarket?
I am a sports scientist and like many scientists, I experienced a similar problem when doing research at the German Sports University in Cologne. When I met the second Co-Founder, Niklas during my Masterprogram in London, who thought about how resources could be used more efficiently, and the idea was born. Niklas has a business background, but taught himself how to code and is now responsible for the development of the platform. The third Co-Founder has a finance background, which is very useful especially when it comes to fundraising. But to be fair, none of us had started a company in the science industry before, so the countless conversations with potential customers, including positive and negative feedback were most helpful on our way.
Have you already secured funding through VC/angel investors?
Yes, we received an initial investment from the Merck Accelerator in September. 2016 and we closed a Business Angel round in April 2017, which enabled us to prove the concept in the London area.
Can scientists already use Clustermarket?
Yes, scientists can use Clustermarket already. We are currently operating in the East and South East of England. The majority of our users are in the London, Cambridge and Oxford regions but we already have a few providers and customers all over Europe.
How do you see Clustermarket developing?
We went through two accelerator programs, MassChallenge UK and the Merck Accelerator Program and raised an Angel round, which helped to launch Clustermarket within the Golden Triangle in early 2017. So far, we see increasing traction on the platform, which makes us confident that we can get established across the UK this year. The interest in Clustermarket is overwhelming, also from abroad. We are currently setting up pilots in Norway, which will hopefully lead to a wider expansion. The success of the marketplace relies on more providers, who are willing to share their resources and support the great research projects of our customers. We have a long way to go to democratise scientific research but we believe we are on a good path.