BlueBee announced today it has raised €10 million ($11,6 million) in Series A financing from a strategic group of investors active at the crossroads of life sciences and ICT, including Capricorn ICT Arkiv, Korys and Biover II.
The financing was subscribed by BlueBee’s existing shareholders, including Buysse & Partners and the management team. The investment will support ongoing innovation of the BlueBee platform, a unique cloud-based accelerated genomics analysis solution to enable fast, efficient and affordable processing of large volumes of genomics data.
BlueBee’s technology allows research centres, clinical labs and diagnostics companies to substantially reduce cost, complexity and throughput time of their genomic data analysis. “Our technology solves one of the biggest bottlenecks in DNA analysis today,” says Hans Cobben, CEO of BlueBee, “the solution has been designed to accelerate scientific and clinical breakthroughs, to simplify collaboration amongst scientists and to facilitate global roll-out of genetic tests.”
Founded in 2011 by Prof. Dr. ir. Koen Bertels as a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology and Imperial College London, BlueBee uniquely offers a cloud-based, distributed computing solution combined with accelerated hardware. This allows mass sequencing data volumes to be processed in extremely short timeframes while respecting gold standard algorithms.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for BlueBee which saw its customer base growing rapidly, proving strong market momentum and the shift of genome sequencing towards the clinic.
Hans Cobben, CEO of BlueBee, commented: “This is an exciting time for BlueBee. After a successful market introduction in the second half of 2014, and with a rapidly growing customer base, the time is right to shift gears. This funding will significantly boost our capacity to support our growth. We appreciate the continued support of our existing shareholders, and look forward to working with our new investors.”
“Korys is very excited to be part of a company that will enable the fast-growing genomics discipline to move to the next level by offering data accuracy and throughput performance that will be critical for health-related applications worldwide”, said Vincent Vliebergh, CEO of Korys.
Marc Lambrechts, Senior Investment Manager at Capricorn Venture Partners, added: “We appreciate the strong, interdisciplinary team at BlueBee and the complementary skills of the teams in Delft, The Netherlands and Mechelen, Belgium. In digital healthcare the key to success is the integration of know-how from the ICT world into the healthcare space.”
In addition to the funding round, BlueBee appointed a new chairman of its board of advisors: Annie Vereecken, founder and former owner of the AML-Labo Riatol labs, which were sold to Sonic Healthcare Ltd in 2010. Her strong belief in Next Generation Sequencing and the impact on further development of lab business and clinical practice are the main triggers to join BlueBee, as an investor and as chairman of the advisory board.
Strong market traction
Experts foresee a huge demand for genomics in the next few years. A report by McKinsey Global Institute expects genetic sequencing to become “standard during medical exams by 2025” requiring substantial industrialisation efforts. Even today, clinical diagnostic applications are the fastest growing segment of the next generation sequencing (NGS) market, as genomics moves from research labs into the clinical environment.
The use of genomics on an industrial scale will require technology that is both easy-to-use as well as scalable and secure.
“When genomics become more standard, clinicians and lab researchers will have less interest in delving into the nuts and bolts of the bioinformatics process, and will expect a secure service that is highly scalable and that just works,” says Hans Cobben. “We enable virtually unlimited scaling up of sequencing capacity while respecting requirements for localised data processing and storage, which is a first in this industry.”