Data orchestration startup Seqera Labs, spun out from the CRG, raises $5.5 million in seed funding

By September 9, 2021CRG

Seqera Labs – the leading provider of data orchestration and workflow software for life sciences – announces it has raised $5.5 million USD in seed funding. The round was co-led by European VCs Talis Capital and Speedinvest, with participation from existing investor BoxOne Ventures. The funding also includes a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan, which supports essential open source software in science. The company will use the funding to further develop its technology, and to grow its North American presence.

Seqera Labs spun out from the BIST centre CRG and was founded in 2018 by the creators of Nextflow, the popular open-source workflow and data orchestration software. Seqera Labs continues to build on the Nextflow platform to solve some of the most challenging issues that the life sciences sector faces by allowing organisations to scale their analysis across disparate infrastructure. The core technology enables and simplifies complex deployments of data analysis pipelines in multi-cloud environments, monitors and optimises drug research and discovery costs, accelerating clinical diagnostics and enabling data-driven life sciences solutions.

Seqera Labs is dedicated to empowering scientists to assemble and deploy massively scalable data analysis pipelines in multi-cloud environments with minimal friction. Nextflow has become a key driver for effectively doubling the productivity of scientists and engineers by allowing them to focus on science. The software deployment model ensures that data never leaves an organisations’ infrastructure boundary and enables computation to be moved to the data.

Within its customer base, Seqera includes six of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. With life sciences data volumes and the related analysis in pharmaceuticals, biotech and life sciences increasing exponentially, Seqera is seeing strong, record demand for both its commercial and its open source offerings. The Nextflow runtime has been downloaded over 2 million times and the commercial cloud offering recently processed its five billionth tasks.

The software gained further momentum in 2020 during the pandemic as it was applied to global SARS-CoV-2 sequencing efforts. Sequencing centres and experts collaborated to develop pipelines for the analysis of COVID-19 samples using Nextflow’s platform which led to the identification and on-going surveillance of the variants including Alpha and Delta. Seqera is also enabling advances in the personalised medicine space, in particular personalised oncology, a segment anticipated to see huge growth in the coming years. Gritstone bio is one such Seqera customer using Nextflow across research and production areas for machine learning workloads in their personalised oncology applications.

While the company is currently focusing on the life sciences segment, the software can be utilised by enterprises across all computational-intense, data pipeline applications, including machine learning and AI, manufacturing, and financial services.

Luis Serrano, ICREA Research Professor and director of the CRG, said: “Seqera, whose technology has sparked the interest of big corporations beyond the healthcare sector, spun out from the research developed by an academic research lab at the CRG, and from the initiative of two people working in that lab, that is, a postdoctoral researcher and a PhD student. This perfectly illustrates how state-of-the-art research can lead to important economic contributions. It also demonstrates that in our country there are young talents ready to take risks and get involved in such entrepreneurial challenges.”

Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder at Seqera Labs, said: “The last decade has seen an intensified demand for tools that can manage and process complex data. From personalised immunogenic vaccines to new diagnostics, our customers are performing work paramount to our global health. Joining forces with Speedinvest and Talis Capital provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to grow our reach and serve these customers better. This partnership is centered on a shared belief in a future transformed by data science research, applications and products. We welcome them into the Nextflow community and are excited at the prospect of building a better world together.

Paolo Di Tommaso, CTO and co-founder at Seqera Labs, said: “We could not be more excited about the road ahead for the Nextflow project. In the past years we have pioneered the use of software containers for high-throughput data processing pipelines and delivered the state-of-art workflow engine adopted by a rapidly expanding user base. This backing enables the project to tackle new, bigger challenges. We are working to bring all our users innovative solutions while maintaining a strong link to the project’s core values of openness, agility, scalability and interoperability.

Kirill Tasilov, principal at Talis Capital, said: “Advancements in machine learning, and the proliferation of volumes and types of data, are leading to increasingly more applications of computer science in life sciences and biology. While this is incredibly exciting from a humanity perspective, it’s also skyrocketing the cost of experiments to sometimes millions of dollars per project as they become computer-heavy and complex to run. Nextflow is already a ubiquitous solution in this space and Seqera is driving those capabilities at an enterprise level – and in doing so, is bringing the entire life sciences industry into the modern age. We’re thrilled to be a part of Seqera’s journey.

Arnaud Bakker, principal at Speedinvest, said: “With the explosion of biological data from cheap, commercial DNA sequencing, there is a pressing need to analyse increasingly growing and complex quantities of data. Seqera’s open and cloud-first framework provides an advanced tooling kit allowing organisations to scale complex deployments of data analysis and enable data-driven life sciences solutions. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the team and support them in accelerating innovation in the healthcare industry.

Learn more on the CRG website