Bluebee raises €1.75 million to bring super computing to genomics

May 22, 2015

Bluebee announced a pre-equity round of 1.75 million EUR (1.90 million USD) from Belgian investment firm Buysse & Partners and existing shareholder Delft University of Technology to bring its cloud-based, accelerated genomics solution to clinicians and labs.

Bluebee’s technology, based on hybrid-core computing (FPGA) allows clinicians to shorten the time-to-diagnosis substantially. “Our technology solves the biggest bottleneck in DNA analysis today,” says Hans Cobben, CEO of Bluebee, “and will help save lives by bringing real-time, personalised medicine one step closer.”

Founded in 2011 as a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology and Imperial College London, Bluebee is the only company that offers a cloudbased, distributed computing solution combined with accelerated hardware. This allows mass sequencing data volumes to be processed in extremely short timeframes.

“Time-to-diagnosis is crucial for patients and can mean the difference between life and death, a notable example being neonatal cancer patients where every day counts.” says Hans Cobben, CEO of Bluebee. “But beyond that, moving one step closer to truly targeted medicine will prove to be a game changer for the medical as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Innovative technologies in genetic screening and analytics will enable the introduction of completely new diagnostics and therapies in healthcare.”

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.” 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 platform that is highly scalable and that just works,” says Hans Cobben.

Empowering clinicians through fast and cost-effective DNA
analysis Bluebee technology was developed to address a growing concern among
researchers and clinicians about the amount of data that DNA sequencing is generating.
“The falling price of DNA sequencing is causing a data deluge today. We are close to generating over 100 petabytes of sequencing data every year,” says Bluebee CEO Hans Cobben. “Analysing all this data is one of the most pressing big data challenges facing us today.”

After a DNA sample is prepared, sequenced and read into a sequencer in the “wet lab,” the digitized genome needs to be analysed and compared with a reference data-set using scientific, peer-reviewed algorithms in the so called “silicon lab.” This stage can take weeks on traditional systems, which creates an important bottleneck in the diagnostic process.

Bluebee solves the “silicon lab” bottleneck by introducing supercomputing to genomics, which allows it to use proven scientific models for analysis of DNA while shortening the process. It combines accelerated hardware (FPGA) with distributed computing, allowing mass sequencing data volumes to be processed in a very short time.

Hans Cobben: “We enable virtually unlimited scaling up of sequencing capacity, which is a first in this industry.”

For the whole press release by Bluebee, click here.