9 DNA Data Storage Companies to Watch (incl. Catalog DNA, Evonetix)19-Sep-2018
The storage capacity of DNA is so powerful that all the data in the world could be stored in a volume of less than 3 gallons. It was in January of 2017 that we first wrote about using DNA to store data, pointing out an Irish startup that was selling a DNA storage device on Amazon. While the device is no longer available for whatever reason, there are now a whole bunch of DNA data storage companies that have popped up. That’s according to an article published on Synbiobeta yesterday which talks about how the archaic method of storing data on magnetic tapes hasn’t changed for 50 years now, and it’s high time we found a long-term storage medium with a lifespan longer than 10 years. DNA could be that medium, based on the fact that a single strand of DNA could store this much information for thousands of years:
The Synbiobeta article consults with some experts out there who think that we will see commercially viable DNA data storage in the next ten years, with Microsoft and Twist Biosciences leading the way at the moment. This made us curious about just how many startups there are right now trying to tackle this problem, and how much funding is going into the DNA storage space. Without further ado, here are nine startups working on DNA data storage.
Founded in 2016, Massachusetts startup Catalog has taken in $9.3 millionin funding from a diverse set of 25 investors so far including names like Chinese Internet giant Baidu (BIDU) and Bryan Johnson’s moonshot-focused OS Fund. Founded by two MIT scientists, Catalog claims to be the first company to have developed a solution to make DNA data storage commercially viable. The company’s chief science officer was poached from Ginkgo Bioworks where he worked as Head of DNA Synthesis, and comes to the table with over one hundred issued patents and more than thirty publications in the area of nucleic acid biology and chemistry. The CTO of Catalog was previously the co-founder of Raindance Technologies, a liquid biopsy startup that was acquired last year after raising over $130 million in funding. They’ve certainly won “the war for talent” that you’ll often hear recruiters babbling on about – much like our next company has as well.
Founded in 2015, Essex U.K. startup Evonetix has taken in $14 million in funding to develop technology that allows them to create long DNA threads accurately and at scale, a prerequisite to using DNA for data storage. The ability to create synthetic DNA from scratch is referred to as “DNA synthesis“, and the applications extend beyond data storage into just about anything you can think of. The company’s technology is based upon a novel silicon array, manufactured with semiconductor microfabrication techniques, and capable of independent control of 10,000 miniaturized reaction sites, allowing massive parallelism and therefore very high throughput with error rates less than 1 in 1 billion (as good as nature in other words.) According to a post on the Evonetix blog, the team includes “researchers from the original Solexa team who were responsible for a cost reduction in sequencing by a factor of 10,000 in seven years.” Solexa revolutionized automated DNA sequencing and was bought by Illumina(ILMN) in 2007 for $600 million.