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5 February, 2018 - 22:19 By Kate Sweeney

Genomics startup shows its hands with awards triple play

Genomics is a Cambridge strong suit but providing access to more precise data that will consistently lead to better patient outcomes continues to be a challenge.

A Cambridge University spin-out has worked hard to build the foundations of an enterprise that is coming up with genuine solutions in this vital march towards personalised medicines.

Heterogeneous has entered for three Business Weekly awards – Startup of the Year, Cambridge Graduate Business of the Year and, via co-founder Charlotte Guzzo, the Cambridge Judge Business School Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. 

Guzzo tells Business Weekly: “2017 has been an exciting year for Heterogeneous. Since its incorporation in February, the platform has started hosting its first genomes, collected hundreds of survey answers, launched its first pilot study with a research group at the University of Cambridge and secured a partnership to offer sequencing services. 

“We are now gearing up to become the most dynamic and ethical genomic database, allowing researchers to run custom studies/analytics in just a few clicks at a fraction of the cost and making sure individuals benefit directly. 

“My co-founders and I created Heterogeneous after experiencing many obstacles as researchers to get fast and dynamic access to scientific data at a reasonable price. 

“Most direct-to-consumer sequencing companies sell data at a prohibitive cost and biobanks tend to have incomplete or static data that does not allow for follow-ups or custom studies. 

“With more and more individuals getting sequenced each year and already seven million in possession of their data, we felt like we could build something useful to facilitate research as well as open up the world of precision medicine to the wider public.

“We started by building the infrastructure required to collect, format and securely encrypt existing genomic data. We then expanded the platform to integrate personal analytics, survey questions, visualisations and tested it by running small in-house studies. 

“In the past year, we have secured three pilot studies with research partners at various institutes and universities and a partnership with a sequencing company to offer sequencing services on our platform. 
“There is a lot we want to achieve in 2018 but we now have our proof of concept as well as a strong and active user base!

“As far as I am concerned, I have had a slightly unusual path. I initially studied classics in Paris and then went off to study business. After a couple years working in the risk department of an investment bank, I became fascinated with data analytics and behavioural science. I decided to go back to university and was admitted to study neuroscience at Cambridge. 

“This is where I met my two co-founders, with whom I shared a strong interest for questions surrounding data ownership, open access and digital health. 

“As is often the case in an early-stage startup, all three of us have had to play multiple roles as Heterogeneous grew. I have, however, begun to focus primarily on business strategy & growth and finance.”

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