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Release date:2019/11/21
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Chen Tianlan working hard in the laboratory. Photo by Li Jianshu, reporter of Zhuhai Daily.

Zhuhai Daily Liao Mingshan, Dai Danmei

Walking on the Huandao road of Hengqin New District, the east side is the University of Macau, and the west side is Hengqin · Macau Youth Innovalley. Chen Tianlan "crossed" the Huandao road, becoming the founder of a biotechnology enterprise from a doctoral student of the University of Macau, and opened a new dream in Zhuhai.

Chen Tianlan is the founder of Zhuhai Digifluidic Biotechnology Co., Ltd. Using digital microfluidic technology, he and his team "moved" the biological laboratory into a portable device, which can be used for DNA-level human disease monitoring, animal and plant pathogen testing, both fast and affordable.

Chen Tianlan's identity has changed from a top student in school to a founder of an enterprise. What remains unchanged is the same core technology, digital microfluidic technology. In 2009, Chen Tianlan entered the University of Macau to study for his master's degree, and worked with his tutors and classmates to develop digital microfluidic chips, hoping to apply the technology to the diagnosis and detection of related diseases.

In 2017, Chen Tianlan and his classmate Dong Cheng, who have been engaged in scientific research and deep ploughing for several years, brought relevant scientific research achievements to ZUMRI. In the following year, Digifluidic was registered and established to transform its technology developed for many years in the University of Macau into industry.

Entering Digifluidic, located in Hengqin Macau Youth Innovalley, where although it is not large in scale, there are office, laboratory and production workshop. At present, Digifluidic mainly develops portable detection equipment with digital microfluidic technology as the core. According to Chen Tianlan, the traditional DNA testing needs special gene laboratory, professional testing equipment and personnel. The products developed by Digifluidic are equivalent to condensing and "moving" the professional laboratory into a portable device, with high degree of automation and simple and quick operation, providing a greater driving force for the future development of integration, automation and miniaturization of nucleic acid testing equipment.

"Take the automatic nucleic acid testing equipment as an example. The equipment is composed of a device and a chip. The chip contains different reagents. Chen Tianlan said that after the test is completed, users can view the data on the computer side, the operation is simple and fast, the whole process only takes about half an hour, the cost of a single test project can be as low as 50 yuan.

Chen Tianlan is not alone in moving professional labs into portable devices. He, Mr. Dong and Mr. Tang, who joined later, became the co-founders of Digifluidic. All three were graduates of the University of Macau, and each had a division of labor: Mr. Chen was in charge of the company's overall operations, Mr. Dong focused on technology research and development, and Mr. Tang was in charge of production and product certification.

Moreover, the University of Macau also fully supports the licensing of relevant technology patents to Chen's company and has a stake in it. It is understood that this is the first time that the University of Macau has invested in a company founded by a team of graduates. Since the establishment of the company more than a year ago, Chen Tianlan has successfully transformed the scientific research achievements into a number of products, and the related projects have become one of the representative projects of the cooperation between Macao and mainland enterprises, universities and research institutes.

Since two or three people, now nearly 10 people, team members have their own lab and production workshop, the development of Digifluidic has just begun, but Chen has confidence in the future: "according to the plan, our new product will be on market in this year. I hope finally we can realize effective monitoring of human disease,  upgrade development of medical industry, and offer service to more and more people."