Cambridge business angels Darrin Disley and Jonathan Milner have backed a £275,000 fundraising by UK medical technology startup Desktop Genetics Ltd (DeskGen).The bioinformatics company is aiming to revolutionise the way genetic engineers work together; it was a winner at the Cambridge University Engineers competition and runner-up in the CambridgeElevator.com KickStart contest at the recent Nerve technology congress in Cambridge.
The investment has come from Boundary Capital Ltd, Execute Technologies Inc, and angel investors Richard Youngman, Michael Martin (both of Anvil Partners LLP), Dr Jonathan Milner (CEO, AbCam Plc) and Dr Darrin M Disley (CEO, Horizon Discovery Ltd).
The backing further unlocks a Technology Strategy Board grant for an additional £100,000, bringing the total funds raised to £375,000. DeskGen has appointed Dr Disley as non-executive chairman.
DeskGen is developing AutoClone™, a new DNA search engine that enables the optimal design, construction, management and exchange of DNA constructs to be used for vector/plasmid manufacturing, genome-editing, protein production and synthetic biology work-flows.
AutoClone is a bioinformatics platform and database that works by sourcing the DNA sequences needed to build any new DNA specified by the user. These DNA sequences may come from the user’s own freezer, from another lab within their organisation, or even public repositories.
In sourcing the sequence information, AutoClone enhances research productivity by reducing the lengthy and expensive process by which DNA is synthesized externally (4-6 weeks by CRO) or internally (5-6 hours by expert scientists). DNA sequence, inventory, management and sharing functions enable the rapid and accurate assembly of sequences into validated molecular biology tools.
The investment will be used to: (a) expand the functionality of the AutoClone™ platform through internal R & D programs and in conjunction with industrial partners; (b) develop a cloud version of the product to be launched following a beta trial to be held in Q4, 2013; (c) establish business development, sales, and marketing functions that will enable the serving of customers in Europe and the US.
Riley Doyle, CEO and founder of DeskGen, said: “AutoClone™ is a DNA design tool combined with a search engine that generates error-free protocols for researchers to recycle existing DNA and make the genes upon which the trillion pound Life Science industry depends.
“By crowdsourcing the constructs that researchers need, we believe the platform can save up to six million man-hours per year across the entire biotech domain. I am very happy we have been able to secure this investment which will enable us to move the business forward rapidly.”