Earlier this year it was announced that a large biotechnology firm, Qiagen based in the Netherlands completed its purchase of Ingenuity Systems based in California which had built software exclusively. This event is one of many to signal the trend of a merging of the biotechnology and software industries which is presenting a large opportunity for software entrepreneurs.
This trend, as further discussed on the Washington Post, is being led by the next generation sequencing industry which continues to produce sequencing data at ever increasing rates and at lower costs. As sequencing data becomes more readily available, the demand continues to rise as some experts suggest DNA mapping will become standard medical practice. Previously it had been difficult for software companies to thrive in the biotech space as next generation sequencing hadn’t come along until massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS) was developed in the 1990’s. Because previous methods were costly and not readily available, the demand for sequencing analysis was held equally low.
As vast amounts of next generation sequencing data are now produced at ever quicker rates, there arises a tremendous opportunity for software entrepreneurs who are able to produce usable results from this data. Although the industry is in its infancy, and has not yet produced a clear market winner, there are several new companies which are capitalizing on this demand. One of these is Enlis Genomics which was started two years ago in Berkeley, CA by Devon Jensen, a PhD in molecular and cell biology. Devon saw the demand for software which was easy enough to use by the average researcher. Another notable example would be Cypher Genomics out of San Diego, CA also formed two years ago which allows researchers to detect genetic variations which may signal health concerns.
Undoubtedly we will also continue to see biotech firms of all types continue to gobble up these new bioinformatics companies as they strive to offer a complete front to back solution for their clients. This is truly an exciting time in the bioinformatics industry with a host of opportunities yet to be discovered.