X-Lab was born out of a keen enthusiasm for healthcare among students and staff who were researching and teaching at the University of Leeds in the early 2000s. Individuals from the University’s Schools of Medicine and Computing brought together skills, experience and passion to find digital solutions to challenges faced across healthcare and the NHS.
Dr Rick Jones, a Professor of Chemical Pathology and Health Informatics brought a problem to Owen Johnson, a lecturer in Computer Science and Health IT, which nobody had ever solved. The challenge was a solution needed to enable digital messaging between hospital laboratories. Owen presented the problem to some final year students who were on placement years working on messaging solutions. As their final year project, the students, with the support of Owen and Rick, decided to develop a prototype solution to the problem; this would later become the National Pathology Exchange (NPEx).
The solution was demonstrated to laboratory teams from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust who asked if the solution could be made into a purchasable piece of software. In the face of this overwhelming positivity, Taz Mistry, one of the students, joined with Rick and Owen to shape this idea into a marketable product. Realising that the team needed a member who knew the NHS inside out, Rick introduced Dr Susan Clamp, who was running the Yorkshire Centre for Health Informatics, to Owen and Taz. Working together to realise what, just a few years previously, had been an impossible idea, they secured funding to establish both the company and its vision.
Owen, Taz and Susan became X-Lab’s directors and, combining their skills as academics, technologists, researchers and industry experts, in 2006 X-Lab became a company. While Rick never joined the Board of Directors, his passion, determination and belief in the product and people behind X-Lab is a crucial part of the company’s success. Rick sadly passed away in 2014 and he is still remembered fondly and gratefully by the X-Lab team.
With funding secured, X-Lab took on staff, developed the prototype code and, in 2007, successfully deployed NPEx in Manchester. In the following years NPEx was deployed across the whole Greater Manchester region and has since achieved 100% NHS England and NHS Scotland coverage and holds customers across Public Health organisations, the private sector, international markets and quality assurance providers.
X-Lab’s name is befitting of the ethos, process and ambition of its formation. Not only are the cross arrows of the ‘X’ symbolic of the exchange between labs, which was made possible through our first product, but the name itself is as much a part of the story as the people who formed the company. X-Lab’s formation through individuals, ideas and projects within the University of Leeds places the lab, be it a pathology laboratory or a computer lab, at the heart of the company. As a place for research, development and innovation, the lab cultivates the brilliant ideas which are realised by the X-Lab team. The ‘X’ value, then, comes to stand for the limitless possibility of the company and the people behind it; X-Lab can and does create anything it puts its mind to.
NPEx is not X-Lab’s only success and is one of many projects the company has successfully delivered across its lifetime. X-Lab have continued to engage with and enable research at the University of Leeds and offer solutions which is clinically useful for healthcare providers, hospitals, and trusts. Read more about our solutions here.
The ideas and determination of X-Lab’s Directors provided the vision for success across these projects which were realised by a passionate, determined, and interdisciplinary team. The day-to-day running of X-Lab is overseen by a management team who combine their key skills in software development, business expansion, project management and technical growth to cultivate the company into a constantly evolving success. Employing staff of varying ages, talents, backgrounds and educational settings, this ambitious and multidisciplinary team is led by an experienced and tight-knit management board who place no constraint on the talent and creativity of the people who work for X-Lab.