BRISTOL – SimuLitix Research Ltd (SimuLitix) and Interactive Scientific Ltd. (iSci) have recently agreed a partnership as sister companies. Co-founded by Dr. David Gowacki and research colleagues from Bristol University, SimuLitix is designed to explore emerging opportunities for developing next-generation virtual reality-enabled tools that support computational nanotechnology research across universities and industry.
SimuLitix was spun out of iSci, a company Glowacki co-founded in 2013 (with Laura Kriefman and Philip Tew) to develop digital tools for science education, interactive artworks, and outreach. He has since stepped down from his iSci board position to focus his energies on SimuLitix and associated opportunities for virtual reality and real-time simulation within nanotech. As a Royal Society Research fellow and Philip Leverhulme fellow. Glowacki’s research laboratory at the University of Bristol has been pioneering methods and analytical tools for applying multi-person virtual reality to better understand molecular behaviour across nanotech research domains like material science, drug design, and catalysis. The technology was first demonstrated by O’Connor et al, in an open access 2018 paper published in Science Advances.
Glowacki said: “I am extremely excited to explore how state-of-the-art computational technologies like virtual & augmented reality, hardware-adapted parallelism, high-bandwidth networks, and cloud-based supercomputing might transform research scientists’ ability to undertake nanoscale design, engineering, and simulation. These are longstanding research interests of mine, and SimuLitix aims to combine these powerful new technologies to make community-focussed free and open source software tools that accelerate nanotechnology research.”
Open Innovation forms a significant part of the SimuLitix ethos, says Glowacki: “Community-driven free and open-source software encapsulates the values, philosophy, and approach that has driven scientific enquiry for centuries, and it’s a strategy I’m excited about. SimuLitix developers will actively engage with a range of community software projects. Mike O’Connor, joint lead author on the Science Advances paper, said, “We intend to initiate and maintain open-source projects under share-alike licenses. This ensures that SimuLitix projects remain open to continuous peer review, ensuring strong scientific foundations, and empowering communities to cooperatively learn from one another.”
As sister companies, iSci holds an equity stake in SimuLitix, and SimuLitix holds licenses to the VR-enabled real-time simulation technology heavily driven by Glowacki and his research colleagues, along with exclusive rights to derivative IP. During summer 2018, Glowacki held a series of meetings with iSci CTO Philip Tew and CEO Becky Sage, to discuss strategies for exploring opportunities which were emerging in primary/secondary education on the one hand and academic/industrial research on the other. Together, they agreed that a sister company relationship would allow them to explore these different domains in parallel. iSci will focus on realising opportunities within primary/secondary education & communication. SimuLitix, benefitting from the research profile of Glowacki & his colleagues in computational science, will focus on exploring opportunities in nanotech research & engineering, with an ethos grounded in community-driven open software tools.