Automated Imaging System to Detect Microbial Colonies on Agar Plates

Request Number N767974
Author GSK
Need details

The system will image agar plates and locate microbial colonies growing on the surface of or embedded in the agar. The system will automatically record genuine microbial colony forming units. The system can detect and enumerate bacterial, fungal and yeast colonies and discriminate them from non-viable contaminants and artifacts.




















Figure 1: Example Agar Plates Demonstrating Various Types of Colony Growth



Currently microbiological results are obtained as discrete Colony Forming Units (cfus), read and recorded manually by microbiologists.  Direct image and data capture currently is not widely used and interfacing with laboratory systems is therefore not feasible. We believe that this process may be significantly improved with automation and imaging technologies for; Product Testing, Environmental Monitoring and Water evaluation of non-sterile and aseptic manufacturing operations.  There is a desire to improve the objectivity of this process.


















Figure 2: Agar Plate Assessment at Manufacturing Site


A Plates are removed from incubators. B Microbiologist reviews each plate with the aid of a magnifying lamp. C Operator manually enters plate details and result of his assessment to LIMS. D Plates are manually segregated and organized by the microbiologist.


Key Success Criteria
  • Distinguish genuine colony forming units from artifacts
  • Work with colonies that are variable in terms of size, shape, colour and mode of proliferation (Dispersed spread vs clustered)
  • Sensitivity equivalent to human eye (ca 12 micron)
  • Assess pass (no colonies) / fail (colonies) status of plates
  • Enumeration of microbial results
  • Capture image of the plate
  • Flexibility to assess a variety of plates; e.g. differing sizes (typically 60mm, 90mm, 140mm) and media surfaces (rough/smooth/indented).
  • Does not require bespoke manufacture of agar plates
  • Does not require integrated incubation system
  • Use of standard plate suppliers is preferable (or cost and validation parity of same)

Is already / has potential to be:

  • Integrated with Laboratory Information Management Systems(LIMS):
    • For  storage and retrieval of results (pass/fail status, enumeration)
    • Capture, storage, archiving and retrieval of images
  • Integrated with automation:
    • Segregation of failing and passing plates
    • Automated tracking, loading and sorting of plates
  • Plate reading speed of approximately 10 sec per plate is anticipated
Possible Approaches

GSK is open to all possible approaches including, but not limited to:

  • Advanced imaging technologies and algorithms


Approaches not of interest
  • Approaches that require a change to the current incubation procedures because this would require a significant change to site procedure and infrastructure. 
  • Systems that require use of bespoke manufacture Petri dishes, because introducing new plates would be a significant validation exercise for sites. 


Preferred Collaboration types
  • Joint Development
  • Technology Licensing
  • Technology Acquisition
  • Supply Agreement
  • To Be Negotiated
Items to be submitted

We are looking for concise, non-confidential proposals. The proposal should:

  • Describe the technical approach. A strong technical content is preferred and should ideally include; information on the technological readiness of the proposal, any proof of concept data, reference to any peer reviewed publications  and potential route to commercialization.
  • Include a description of the responding organisation or team and their experience


Please use the Respond button in order to submit your proposal.


We recommend:

  • including a concise abstract summarising your submission
  • attaching your proposal
  • attaching any additional documents


Please note that only non-confidential information can be accepted. By submitting a response you confirm that the response does not contain any confidential information.


Point of Contact
Stephen Clulow
Area of Interest
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Peripherals
  • Computer Software
  • Application Development
  • Manufacturing & Fabrication
  • Process Control
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Pharmaceutical R & D
Due Date
April 21, 2017
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Could you provide the details of any bar-codes that will be used to identify the plates.

What is the maximum number of samples to be processed at any one time?

Are there any dimensional restraints of the plate reading system that is to be proposed.

Can you provide us with the acceptable variance in petri dish width and height
Posted on 6/23/16 12:10 PM.