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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
26 March, 2015 - 10:38 By Kate Sweeney

DNAdigest spin-out raises £300k for genomics platform

Social venture Repositive Ltd – a spin-out from Cambridge-based charity DNAdigest – has raised £300k seed funding to launch a novel genomic data discovery platform.

Repositive is building a platform where genomic scientists can make their research data sets discoverable to their peers and find other researchers working with similar datasets.

In the seed funding round, Repositive raised £200k of equity investment from angel investors in Cambridge and London and received additional £100k matched grant funding through the Big Venture Challenge.

Access to relevant genomic data is a growing problem for research in genetic diseases and cancer. Genetic research requires access to a large amount of data from both patients and healthy individuals in order to identify and validate genetic variants that are associated with disease.

DNA sequencing datasets are increasing in size and complexity, making the data difficult to manage, and human genomics data poses additional challenges of data privacy and confidentiality. This often leads to data being siloed at individual institutions with a vast amount of datasets getting lost or not being re-used after the study findings have being published. 

Many genomic datasets are never used to their full potential because of the lack of mechanisms for easy discovery and secure access to the data. These datasets contain valuable information and have the huge potential to contribute to other research projects, thus saving time, money and, ultimately, patient lives. 

The Repositive platform provides a portal for exploring available genomic data, making datasets visible and accessible for initiating research collaborations. 

This will incentivise more research for cures of genetic diseases, which have previously been blocked by insufficient access to relevant data. Enabling access to valuable sources of data that otherwise remain hidden has the potential to speed up the research process and provide the evidence needed to generate statistically sound results. This will remove one of the most serious bottlenecks to progress in genomic medicine and will provide crucial foundations for finding cures for genetic diseases and cancer.

Fiona Nielsen (pictured above), founder and CEO, said: “Our mission is to facilitate efficient and ethical data sharing for genomics research – a challenging problem which requires both technical solutions and cultural change.

“We are addressing both on the platform by working closely with the research community to create the right incentives for our users to adapt best practices for ethical data sharing.”

Julie Devonshire, director of Ventures at UnLtd, which delivers the Big Venture Challenge, added: “Repositive is truly ground-breaking. It has the potential to benefit the lives of millions of people in the years to come through their innovative use of technology.”

Core features of the platform include data discovery of relevant genomic datasets, registration of datasets and collaboration on data projects and it will be available for free for all registered users. Repositive is co-located with DNAdigest at the Future Business Centre Cambridge as part of the Social Incubator East.

Repositive won the support of the Wayra UnLtd startup academy for social ventures in 2013 and was selected as a winner of the Big Venture Challenge 2014.

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