Maria Montero

PetaGene Raises $ 2.1M in Funding for Its Compression Technology …

PetaGene, the Cambridge, UK-based genomic data compression startup, has raised $ 2.1 million in additional funding. The leader of the round is Romulus Capital, the American venture firm, with the participation of other unidentified investors such as Silicon Valley and London. Brings total funding to $ 3.2 million.

Previous investor Entrepreneur First, the company’s builder backed by Greylock Partners, also followed. PetaGene is a former student of EF6, though notably its two founders Dan Greenfield and Vaughan Wittorff had already known each other from their time in the Computer Lab at Cambridge University. They both have PhDs from the University of Cambridge, too.

The company will use the new funds to grow its Cambridge-based technical team, global sales team, and further expand PetaGene’s product offerings. I have also been told that the new funding is coming from the back of signing a large contract with a major undisclosed pharmaceutical company.

“As whole genome sequencing becomes increasingly common, the amount of data it creates puts a great strain on the infrastructure. We help organizations manage that data, “says PetaGene co-founder Dan Greenfield.” Through our compression technology, we make data up to ten times smaller and faster to transfer for research and analysis, democratizing the precision medicine in the process “.

In its current form, storing and processing genomic data adds significant additional cost and acts as a bottleneck in how quickly you can work with the data. By some estimates, genomic data will hit 40 exabytes per year by 2025 (exabytes is a lot of data, by the way!). Thus, better file compression technology has the potential to be an important enabler of genomics-based research and innovation, including the development of new personalized drugs and treatments.

Key to this, PetaGene says its software enables the compression of huge amounts of genomic data without compromising the access and data quality. The company claims that its products go beyond regular data reduction techniques.

“We have devoted extensive R&D to building extremely high-performance compressors for genomic data, and the result is that we outperform existing state-of-the-art compression, sometimes by a factor of 6x or more,” Greenfield explains.

“At the same time, our customers want to be sure that the original file can be accurately recovered. Unfortunately, other compression solutions cannot restore the original file, and can sometimes even discard or modify the internal content without notifying their users. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we retain the original file bit by bit, even providing commercial guarantees to our clients. I can’t really go into the details of our secret sauce here, but we are very proud of our industry leading performance and continue to improve on it. “

Krishna K. Gupta, founder and general partner of Romulus Capital, says he was impressed by the part of the genomic value chain that PetaGene is targeting, prompting the company to invest for the first time in 2017. “Since then, his ability to successfully develop your product. “For the cloud and the strong interest of potential customers has only served to reinforce our vision,” he says.

Meanwhile, PetaGene’s target customers include pharmaceutical companies, academic research institutions, clinical laboratories in hospitals, and genome sequencing companies.

“Our customers pay for our software based on the savings they make,” adds the PetaGene co-founder. “The greater the reduction in the size of their data files, the more revenue we receive and the more they save on data storage and transfer costs. We do not charge our customers to access or decompress the compressed data. “