STORY: Max Schommer ’19 Makes Forbes 30 Under 30

June 6th, 2024

His company, Trilobio, builds fully automated robotics that are designed with biologists in mind.

Olin alumnus Maximilian Schommer ’19 and his co-founder and partner Roya Amini-Naieni have made the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 List in the Manufacturing and Industry category for their robotics-meets-biotechnology company, Trilobio.

Founded in 2021, Trilobio builds fully automated synthetic biology robots that are designed to effectively perform day-to-day tasks for biologists with as little hands-on interaction and programming as possible.

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Olin alumnus Maximilian Schommer ’19 and his co-founder and partner Roya Amini-Naieni have made the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 List.

The seeds for Trilobio were planted when Schommer was at Olin, and Amini-Naieni was studying mathematical and computational biology at Harvey Mudd College. 

“Roya was working with a liquid handling pipetting robot in the lab, and one of the hurdles she was facing was the amount of time it took to understand how and then program the robot to do the tasks she needed it to do,” says Schommer. “I began thinking about how we could make robots that help overqualified and underserved lab technicians do their jobs more easily.” 

Schommer, who had obtained entrepreneurial training in Olin’s “Technology Venture Capstone” (TVC) course, reached out to his former professor, Scott Harris, distinguished partner in engineering and entrepreneurship, for advice. “He suggested we pursue venture funding, and within six months, we had our first prototype,” says Schommer. 

Since its founding, Trilobio has grown to five employees and has seven robots in customer labs, where they are customized and upgraded as the team learns more about their users’ needs.

“We have found the team at Trilobio to be more open and interested in the changes that will help end users,” says Aaron Leconte, associate professor of chemistry at the Keck Science Department of The Claremont Colleges, who uses a Trilobot in his lab, The Leconte Group. “We have frequently come to them with problems or areas that would help with experiments, and they have been able to troubleshoot and improve the instrument incredibly quickly and effectively … It’s this interaction with end users and incredible responsiveness and adaptiveness of the team that makes me particularly excited about where the Trilobot is going; it has the real potential to be one of the most important pieces of equipment in our lab.

The company initially raised $3 million in seed funding, with which they were able to produce more robots than they initially planned.

“On the technical side, the robots themselves have improved immensely—we have sped up throughput by 40x through parallelization and motor control, and we’re working on creating an interface that’s even easier for biologists to use by automatically generating programming code for them,” says Schommer.

“TriloBio's engineering design is a reflection of the company's vision: to create an accessible open platform for lab automation and thereby democratize biological research and development,” says Lorenzo D’Amico, founder and CEO of Triton Bio in Syracuse, New York. “For the first time in history, disparate engineering organizations can collaboratively build new scalable and interconnected hardware solutions for bioresearchers. It is a no-brainer to build our business model around this exciting new platform.”

Trilobio will begin raising their Series A funding in the coming months.