Lifebit, a genomics data startup, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Pentech and Connect Ventures led the round with participation from Beacon Capital and Tiny VC.
London, 19th July, 2018 – Lifebit, the startup building a fully-automated system that generates and processes genomics data in real time at scale, today announces that it has closed a $3m (£2.25m) Seed funding round led by Pentech and Connect Ventures, with participation from Beacon Capital and Tiny VC (AngelList). The company is simultaneously announcing the launch of its first product, Deploit, the world’s first AI-powered genomic data analysis platform, already being trialled by major pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
With DNA data becoming ever faster and cheaper to analyse, sequencing and cataloguing the genomes of every life-form on Earth draws closer to reality. This is the task set by the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), which launched a year ago. Similar initiatives are now springing up across the research sector, governments, as well as biotech and pharma companies.
“The problem these organisations face is no longer sequencing vast quantities of genomic data, but rather making sense of this data quickly and affordably,” says Lifebit’s CEO and co-founder Dr. Maria Chatzou. “This requires new data analysis technologies, which is where Lifebit comes in. Our mission as a company is to enable cloud-based real time genomic analysis at scale, anywhere, by anyone.”
The company’s first product, Deploit, democratizes access to the cloud for genomic data analysis. Simultaneously learning from the data it processes and the way researchers interact with it, Deploit offers an unprecedented level of automation, while integrating with all major cloud providers and offering a seamless user experience. By harnessing the power of Cloud computing and AI, the product enables life-science data analysts and R&D professionals, with limited-to-no computational and data analysis training, to analyse and make sense of genomic and biodata in the fastest, most intuitive and cost-effective way possible.
Deploit is the first step towards the company’s ultimate vision: to build a cloud-based cognitive system that can reason about DNA data in the same way as humans – that anyone can use and get actionable insights from.
Lifebit was founded by Dr. Maria Chatzou and Dr. Pablo Prieto Barja, the company’s CTO, in the summer of 2017 in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Soon afterwards, it was selected to take part in Techstars, the leading tech accelerator programme, before closing its $3m Seed round and moving to London earlier this year. The founders are using the investment to further develop Deploit, adding to an exceptional engineering team drawn from the likes of Google, Palantir and Illumina.
‘With full human genomics sequencing now heading towards costing $100 and taking less than one hour to complete, we are on the cusp of creating more ‘omics’ data than any other type on the planet,” says Pentech partner Dr. Sandy McKinnon. “Taming and organising that data and optimising the cost of processing it, is the first huge problem that Lifebit is solving. But even more exciting are their plans to bring the power of advanced machine learning to allow a much bigger audience to derive insights and value from this data beyond expert bioinformaticians.’
Bill Earner, managing partner at Connect Ventures, adds: “We are really impressed with the deep domain knowledge and product understanding that the Lifebit team is bringing to solve some of the major problems in genomics data analysis. The time and cost savings Lifebit offers bioinformaticians are exceptional, while their plans to use machine learning to allow broader audiences to make sense of genomic data are ambitious and transformational.”
Dr. Maria Chatzou, meanwhile, argues that the world is on the brink of a genomics revolution which has close parallels with the earliest days of the personal computer, when companies like Microsoft and Apple were born and went on to reshape the world.
“Just as we knew then that one day everyone would have at least one personal computer and it would change the way we live our lives, today we are entering an era where everyone will have their genome sequenced multiple times over their lifetime and every aspect of human existence from diagnostics and precision medicine to food security and the environment will change as a result. Lifebit intends to be at the heart of this wave of change,” she says.
Lifebit is building a cloud-based cognitive system that can reason about DNA data in the same way as humans. This offers researchers and R&D professionals, with limited-to-no computational and data analysis training, and their corresponding organisations (ie. pharmaceutical companies), a highly scalable, modular and reproducible system that automates the analysis processes, learns from the data and provides actionable insights.
Pentech Ventures are leading early stage software investors looking for opportunities to build breakout companies in emerging market spaces, with particular focus on AI and ML. Founded in 2001, the firm has raised over £150m across three funds and has a long track record of guiding small founding teams from pre-launch to international scale. Pentech’s four partners are ex-operators with deep tech backgrounds and an immersive understanding of the businesses they invest in. With a UK outlook and hubs in London and Edinburgh, the team’s investments include Acunu (Apple), FanDuel, Maxymiser (Oracle), Nutmeg, Outplay and Semetric (Apple). The companies Pentech has backed have between them created almost 1,700 new jobs.
About Connect Ventures
Connect Ventures is a seed stage venture capital firm based in London and investing across Europe, currently investing out of its second fund of £50m. Connect invests in Europe-based software founders with global ambitions who put product and user experience at the center of what they do.