Neil Benn

Neil Benn


Work History

Work History


Ziath Ltd

Ziath operates in the field of instrumentation control and information management in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry sector with a focus on the application of laboratory automation.  Founded in 2005, Ziath sells products targeted to meet an unmet need. In addition Ziath offer consulting and contracting work to customers.  Neil's role as CEO of Ziath mainly involve business development, product development, marketing and sales.  In addition, Neil has significant input (alongside CTO Tim DIlks) into the technical aspects of product development.

2008 - Present


Scionics GmbH

This position involves the development of bespoke software applications to support the processes within the Max Planck Institute in Dresden.  This work focuses on web based applications developed with Java, Hibernate and the Spring framework.

2004 - 2008

Head of Automation

Cenix Bioscience GmbH

My position at Cenix managed the automation and associated processes. This involved educating scientists to work with automation both in an operational and a theoretical sense. The processes mapped onto the automation included new methodologies based upon the application of RNA interference to provide target validation studies for pharmaceutical companies.  Further to this the role, my objectives also included dealing with a large number of suppliers to obtain the correct equipment on a tight budget and timescale, part of this involved implementing purchasing and planning strategies within Cenix to correctly identify the bottlenecks in the process, planning for the future – not just the present system.  In addition, I had an informatics role with respect to software design and implementing in-house and/or propriety systems to both operate with equipment and facilitate data analysis/process tracking and managed an automation team.

2000 - 2004

Senior Automation Informatics Scientist

Cambridge Antibody Technology

My position at CAT was within the Informatics and Robotics Department. The role was based at a company wide level, forming an effective automation strategy for the dynamic environment of a fast growing Biotech company. In addition to training power users on the effective support and development of automation, the job also contained a large informatics element.  This informatics work was mainly focused on the application of Enterprise-Class informatics (utilising Java) onto existing laboratory automation frameworks. This system (along with specifically designed modular hardware) was designed to allow for a modular and scalable (both in automation equipment and computer technologies/hardware) automation systems. In addition, this application also allowed for CAT to have the freedom to purchase and make best use of a wide range of equipment without suffering from any ‘lock-in’ problems to a particular manufacturer. This gave CAT the ability to quickly respond to rapidly evolving processes.

1994 - 2000

Senior Research Scientist

My role at GlaxoSmithKline was in the Lead Discovery department at Stevenage. I led a team with responsibility for maintaining and developing the large scale High-Throughput Screening automation at GSK.  The position required the ability to prioritise resources against a dynamic range of targets. In addition to this, the role also required the ability to quickly assess technical situations and provide immediate solutions in a time-pressured environment.


1998 - 2001

Msc Computer Science

University of Hertfordshire
1991 - 1994

BSc Biotechnology (Hons)

University of Leeds



Team Leadership

Training and Education

Drug Discovery

Python programming

Enterprise Class Java


Laboratory automation

Professional Memberships

  • Current member and ex-board member of the European Laboratory Robotics Interest Group
  • Current member of the Association of Laboratory Automation
  • Informatics track chair for LabAutomation 2009
  • Founder and administrator for the Open Lab Automation project