Questing for cash: Gene-IT gets boost for GenomeQuest with $4.1 million finance round

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WESTBOROUGH, Mass.—July 16, 2007—With clients ranging from patent offices to law firms to biopharma companies, GenomeQuest announced its namesake sequence search and analysis tool recently surpassed the 100 customer mark, experiencing strong growth in 2006 and 2007. "This milestone is proof of the transformative power of a new mindset in sequence search, one in which unique technologies and methodologies combine to enable a single, unified view of the vast and disparate gene sequence and IP data worldscape," says Ronald Ranauro, company president and CEO.
WORCESTER, Mass.—Gene-IT, a provider of sequence search software for drug discovery researchers and others in the life sciences industry, secured a $4.1 million round of Series A financing at the end of November. The financing was led by Cross Atlantic Partners and Milestone Venture Partners in New York City, with reinvestment by Paris-based Société Générale Asset Management Alternative Investments.
The company plans to use the funds to expand sales and marketing programs aimed at discovery scientists and attorneys in major markets in North America and Europe, particularly with regard to the Gene-IT's GenomeQuest application.
"What our company is passionate about is that we're trying to make this information from surface and deep-Web genomic data sources available to the people who want to ask the questions: the researchers who are doing drug discovery and the lawyers and others concerned with intellectual property issues around genomic prospects," explains Ronald Ranauro, CEO of Gene-IT. "We want to eliminate the middle man in the information flow. This funding will enable us to get the word out to people about GenomeQuest."
Ranauro also calls the funding "a huge validation" of customers' decision to select GenomeQuest for their sequence search applications, adding, "[It] should signal the broader market that innovative solutions exist to increase productivity while driving down the cost of sequence-relevant discovery research."
Ranauro says that everyone from Big Pharma to the thousands of smaller biotech firms around the world can benefit from GenomeQuest. More importantly, making people aware of the product helps close an important informational loop, he says.
"These companies need sales, support and outreach for our product and we want to make it available to them because that's just good business," Ranauro notes. "But these people are also the source of future applications for GenomeQuest and future information that might become part of the application or that might be mined by it. By building tools that make their lives easier, we help build relationships that are good for both parties."
GenomeQuest was launched in January 2004, and was initially adopted by the European Patent Office. Since then, GenomeQuest has been embraced by more than 40 life science organizations, including Chiron, Sanofi-Aventis, Monsanto and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
"GenomeQuest expands intelligent access to genomic information by linking sequence and text from disparate databases," says Dr. Sandra Panem, general partner at Cross Atlantic Partners. "Ease of use, speed, accuracy and the instant sharing of results allows research teams to do better science and make better business decisions—both are needed for success."
"Gene-IT has focused on end-user needs to create GenomeQuest," says Todd Pietri, General Partner at Milestone Venture Partners. "Their architecture is designed for huge data sets. We believe that Gene-IT has the platform and the business model to meet the needs of genomic information consumers."
Increased marketing and sales support isn't all Gene-IT has in mind for its flagship product, though. In 2006, the company will expand GenomeQuest to address emerging applications of sequence search in areas such as RNAi and diagnostics.

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