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QReserve launches McMaster’s turn-key research equipment database

December 5, 2014
Danelle D’Alvise, Research Communications

It’s an online ‘library’ for research equipment that first began in the Biointerfaces Institute (BI), McMaster’s – and Canada’s – premier research facility for developing unique surfaces at the interface of biology and materials. The BI is home to a vast array of high-tech equipment, machines and instrument suites in a shared environment designed to connect researchers and industrial users from multiple disciplines.

Brandon Aubie, a self-described “math geek turned neuroscientist” joined the Institute after completing his PhD here at McMaster and, in an effort to connect more users from both industry and academia to the facility to utilize its many resources, created a website that listed all of the equipment and associated scientific expertise resident in the Biointerfaces Institute.

 “While trying to promote our equipment and services to both McMaster and external users, we realized that it would be incredibly valuable to have a centralized database of resources available on a campus where users could easily search and find what they needed,” says Aubie, “People from other research institutions were also interested in our facilities so we designed a platform to connect campuses together and help people find equipment nearby or far away.”

The database platform was launched in March of this year as QReserve Inc., a spin-out company founded by Aubie, John Brennan (Scientific Director of the BI) and Fred Capretta (Associate Director of the BI). In September the company was awarded $24,896 through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) SmartStart program to introduce its publicly available research equipment database platform to universities and colleges across Canada. QReserve now has labs from eleven institutions across the country – from Simon Fraser University to McGill University – participating in the database. 

Aubie is often asked the same questions about QReserve, including “why?” and “what’s in it for me?” when he’s pitching the concept to researchers. Aside from the fact that researchers can list their equipment, resources and services in the database at no cost to them, there is no obligation for the researcher or a lab to provide anything, beyond the information they want to appear.

“QReserve is simply a means of dispersing information and making it easier for people to form mutually beneficial relationships.  Whether equipment is shared, samples are submitted for analysis, or collaborations form – it’s all up to the individual parties how they want to proceed,” explains Aubie. “The benefits include the improved utilization of research equipment and resources to maximize the return on investment from grants, more opportunities for interdisciplinary research and easier access for industry to locate the resources and expertise they need.”

McMaster faculty and researchers can participate for free by signing up through McMaster's QReserve page or by contacting mcmaster@qreserve.com QReserve is currently operating out of The Forge a cooperative effort between McMaster University and the Innovation Factory to provide a business and innovation accelerator for the Hamilton community.

QReserve has implemented a Campus Ambassador program that hires senior undergraduate student or graduate students to assist with data collection and help establish the database on campus. The company is offering up to six paid positions at 3-4 hours per week for one term (Winter 2015) and are also looking for students to help collect information about interesting equipment, techniques and expertise found in their own labs.  For more information, students can go to the Campus Ambassador Program page or email mcmaster@qreserve.com.