NZ software company Biomatters recorded a huge win recently just prior to the release of a major upgrade “Geneious Pro 2.5”, with their flagship product “Geneious”, which allows researchers to do genomic research quicker, becoming the top download worldwide on Apple.com.
Running Google Analytics on Geneious revealed a surprising answer to who, behind the US, is downloading it faster than anyone else: Finland!
CEO Daniel Batten says, “The Apple result is a huge boost for us internationally, we are being downloaded at triple the expected rate, and have users in 70 countries now, including Pfizer, Stanford, The American National Institute of Health, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. But the truly exciting thing has been that this has paved the way for conversion to our paying product, which we have sold to the University of Auckland and is now being used by approximately 60% of users in the biological sciences.”
Virtually without any marketing except a quirky viral approach that has involved free offers, cheeky online Matrix-style videos, and outrageously offbeat messages to buyers of the product, Biomatters already have paying customers in five countries internationally, and the rapidity with which a viral outbreak of uptake in a university like Auckland, or a country like Finland has proven that there is a very large international market for our product.
Chief Scientist Dr Alexei Drummond says, “the approach is working among scientists – we get a lot of our marketing emails and videos forwarded on, and yesterday we got an email from someone saying, ‘you guys are crazy but I love it [Geneious] so much I've bought your product myself rather than using my departmental budget.’
“Think of Geneious like “bio-Google on steroids” – it is the one tool that has successfully allowed biologists to run complex computational diagnostics on genomic information. This area is called bioinformatics, and it is an area that former head of Life Sciences at Sun Microsystems Howard Asher has picked that New Zealand can lead the world in because of the excellent caliber of science and low cost of buying computers (compared to say expensive mass spectrometers).
And NZ product Geneious is now the fastest growing bioinformatics application for the desktop in the world. Batten observes, “Web 2.0 is providing a level playing field for excellent NZ innovation to make it on the global stage, and our product is showing what is possible, and how coming from NZ can work in your favor."
"Without exception, when people find out we come from Down Under, the respect level goes up. We are known internationally as being in the top three internationally in the HealthIT, and we have the capacity to be number one in the world in bioinformatics.”
With Frost and Sullivan anticipating that 30% of drug development time can be saved through bioinformatics and bioinformatics enabled tools, Biomatters point out that this is a major future revenue opportunity for the NZ economy. Bioinformatics literally represents the collision of the world’s biggest and second-biggest industries.
Geneious is now being used to help scientists doing work on everything from diabetes to bio-diversity; from drug discovery to conservation. If wetlab biology is analog, bioinformatics is digital. The core problem about bioinformatics, says Batten, has been that until tools like Geneious emerged, you had to be the mechanic to drive the car.
With Geneious, any molecular biologist on the planet can do complex bioinformatics without having to understand all the complex genomic algorithms under the hood. This is significant because people around the world are actively using Geneious to research HIV, SARS, biodiversity and forensics, and it makes research happen a lot faster.
How much faster? Batten says that independent analysis with a professor of molecular biology at Rochester University indicated that in some cases up to 20 times faster, and experiences both here and Australia prove that bioinformatics can be taught and understood six times faster using Geneious.
Geneious 2.5 has a host of new features including:
- Artificially intelligent searching
- Load, view and edit full chromosomes or up to 10,000 HIV genomes
- Primer design & basic contig assembly
- Publication-quality image export
- Full collaboration with Google Chat integration
- Interoperability with other tools like DNAStar, Mega, Phrap