The UK-based bioinformatics firm Lifebit Biotech has closed a €7M Series A funding round, which will help the startup to accelerate the global market expansion of its AI-driven, cloud-based genomics analysis software.
The round was led by the Parisian VC firm Idinvest Partners and also included returning investors Pentech Ventures, Beacon Capital, and Connect Ventures.
According to Maria Chatzou Dunford, CEO of Lifebit, the timing of the round is opportune as the company is busy increasing its market reach, expanding its workforce, and accelerating the development of its genomics-focused operating system Lifebit CloudOS.
Based in the cloud, Lifebit CloudOS is designed to allow people with minimal computational training to quickly and easily visualize and analyze huge amounts of bioinformatics data. Traditionally, these operations have often required high technical knowledge, as well as big investments into computing infrastructure.
“Before Lifebit CloudOS, researchers were trying to find ways to handle and transform genetic data to actionable insights, in order to develop better drugs, therapies, and so on,” Lifebit’s Communications Director, Lorraine Neal, told me. “It was a huge challenge and we were motivated to solve it. We built our platform to enable cloud-based, real-time, AI-guided genomic analysis at scale, for anyone, anywhere.”
Indeed, one of the core values of the company is to “democratize access to and understanding of genomics and biomedical data in order to push forward the frontiers of health and knowledge.”
“We need to enable all researchers, whether novice or advanced, to become experts at running complex analyses to extract actionable insights,” Neal added.
The latest version of the product launched last week, Lifebit CloudOS 2.0, incorporates a Biobank Data Browser, which allows users to analyze vast sets of genomic, phenotypic, multi-omic, medical records, and other data generated by biobanks, such as UK Biobank.
Chatzou Dunford told me that Lifebit’s system differs from those of other companies that aim to democratize genomics because its AI feature simulates how a cell would respond to external factors like different drugs. By comparison, the products that companies such as the Swiss company SOPHiA Genetics offer, while also AI-driven, simulate human rather than cellular data.
With both of these types of products on offer, Chatzou Dunford believes that anyone could be a bioinformatician in the future.
She told me: “I don’t see a future where we have people who ‘don’t do’ data analysis. The whole sector will be radically transformed — from a life science to a data science — therefore, everyone will be a data scientist. Our generation now is pioneering the automation tools that will enable the next generation to utilize all of this big data.”
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