Written by Noelle PeetersMarketing Manager

Breda, 11 October 2022
In 1984, founder Marcel Mossou began working as a sales representative for the first robotisation solutions for laboratories in the Netherlands. Marcel’s experience and enthusiasm meant he couldn’t wait to start his own company, and so Lab Services was born! 

His vision was to launch a company specialising in robotisation solutions for laboratories. It quickly became clear that this would be a long journey, and so the company began searching for laboratory service delivery and automation solutions. Service support for an American customer was the company’s principal activity in the early days. When the first marketing campaign was launched, it became apparent that there was a high demand for lab automation in the Netherlands.  

The next step came after Marcel read an article in Elsevier about the opening of a new research park in the UK. The accompanying photo showed a robot on a track with the Robocon brand name. This turned out to be a Vienna-based company that happened to be looking for a service rep in the Netherlands, because a potential customer was interested in purchasing one of their systems. This led to the installation of the first system in Weesp in mid-1995. The first employees also joined Lab Services around this time. 

Lab Services’ true start in the world of laboratory automation resulted from participating in ‘Het Instrument’, an exhibition organised by FHI, the Dutch industry association, where Lab Services integrated a human scale articulated robot with a liquid handler for the first time. This attracted a lot of attention, but also scepticism, until the final day when the Gezondheidsdienst voor Dieren (GD, Animal Health Service) visited an hour before closing time to see which laboratory automation solutions Lab Services could supply. Their interest led to an order for three systems at three different locations in the Netherlands.  

Microtitre plates and everything related to them attracted more and more attention. Soon Marcel came into contact with various brands specialising in products including SBS format related consumables and 2D coded tubes. Lab Services was soon successfully selling these tubes: Lifelines Groningen was a regular customer and we became the main supplier to many companies in the Dutch seed valley.  

Beyond the Netherlands, Lab Services had potential customers across western Europe. We paid the first visits to pharmaceutical companies in this period and the idea of developing our own product was born, so that we would no longer be reliant on numerous suppliers. Today, this independence is still one of Lab Services’ core values.  

The idea of developing our own automation products arose. This resulted in the launch of the PlateButler around 2002. The concept was to develop a flexible, robust, bespoke system that could operate 24/7 without interruption. We began with small, simple but unique systems and never stopped taking innovative steps in response to trends and our customers’ needs. These included integrating robots and developing clients, a scheduler and graphics.

Lab Services grew and Marcel came into contact with larger, international pharmaceutical companies. Lab Services demonstrated the added value of laboratory automation and took the first steps in the international market.

Around the time of the 20th anniversary of the company’s founding, Lab Services began looking for opportunities to guarantee long-term continuity by exploring potential options for an acquisition of the company. It became clear that the future of Lab Services depended on having a Commercial Director with responsibility for operations in combination with a Technical Director. Following rigorous investigation, Ferry de Vugt, Arjan Hofman and Marcel developed a good acquisition plan, which came to fruition in 2017.  

Five years later, Lab Services is now 30 years old. During these five years, we have seen rapid growth in the market and demand for laboratory automation. Our customers’ knowledge and expertise in the field of automation and our increasingly global society mean that projects are becoming larger and more complex all the time. The developments in the field are rapid, which is increasing the demand for cutting-edge innovations. With our rapidly growing team of experts, Lab Services can respond to this evolutionary process and is fully ready for the future. We understand the craft of integration like no other.